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Author of "T/ie Malay Archipelago" "Darwinism" etc., etc. 

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TV IX R. ALFRED RUSSEL WALLACE, the co-discoverei 
1VJ w i tn ^ r - Darwin of the principle of natural selec- 
tion as the main agent in the evolution of species, has in 
his published works travelled over a much more diversified 
range of subjects than Mr. Darwin. To books of travel, of 
philosophical and of systematic natural history, he has added 
others dealing with the causes of depression of trade, proposing 
land nationalisation, defending belief in miracles and in 
modern spiritualism, and attacking vaccination. Although it 
would not be right here to enter into a criticism of such con- 
troversial works, enough may be said to indicate that their 
author, admittedly a master-mind in regard to the philosophy 
and the details of evolution, is widely qualified in regard to 
political and social questions. 

Born at Usk in Monmouthshire on the 8th of January, 1823, 
and educated at Hertford Grammar School, the future adven- 
turous traveller early became a voyager on a small scale, during 
his residence with an elder brother, a land surveyor and archi- 
tect. From 1836 to 1848 while so occupied he resided in 
various parts of England and Wales, and acquired some 
knowledge of agriculture and of the social and economic 

reconditions of the labouring classes. While living in South 
Wales, about 1840, he first turned his attention to natural 
history, devoting all his spare time to collecting and preserving 
the native plants, and eagerly reading books of travel. While 
residing at Leicester in 1844-5 ( as an English master in the 
Collegiate School), he made the acquaintance of Mr. H. W. 
Bates, an ardent entomologist, and when, some years later, 

0. the desire to visit tropical countries became too strong to be 




resisted, he proposed to Mr. Bates a joint expedition to the 
Amazons, one of the objects, in addition to the collection of 
natural history specimens, being to gather facts, as Mr. Wallace 
expressed it in one of his letters to Mr. Bates, " towards solving 
the problem of the origin of species," a subject on which they 
had already conversed and corresponded extensively. The 
two friends met in London early in 1848 to study the collec- 
tions of South American animals and plants already there; 
and they embarked at Liverpool in a small trading vessel on 
the 20th of April, 1848, reaching the mouth of the Amazons 
just a month later. From this date the present volume speaks 
for itself. We will merely note that Mr. Bates took a different 
route of exploration from Mr. Wallace from March 1850 ; he 
remained seven years longer in the country, and in 1863 pub- 
lished his most attractive " Naturalist on the Amazons." 

Mr. Wallace's travels on the Rio Negro and to the upper 
waters of the Orinoco, his adventurous ascent of the rapid river 
Uaupe's, his observations on the natural history and the native 
tribes of the Amazon valley, are simply and naturally recorded 
in this volume. His assemblage of facts will be seen to form 
a broad basis for induction as to causes and modes of trans- 
formation of species. His return voyage bade fair to be his 
last, for the vessel in which he sailed took fire, and was com- 
pletely destroyed, with a large proportion of Mr. Wallace's 
live animals and valuable specimens. Ten anxious days had 
to be spent in boats, tortured not only by shortness of food 
but by remembrances of the dangers encountered in obtaining 
valued specimens, now irretrievably lost. It was only after an 
eighty days' voyage that Mr. Wallace landed at Deal on the 
18th of October, 1852. His " Travels on the Amazon and Rio 
Negro," published in the autumn of 1853, had an excellent 
reception, and after disposing of the collections which had 
been sent home previous to his return Mr. Wallace started for 
another tropical region, the Malay archipelago. 

From July 1854, when he arrived in Singapore, to the early 
part of 1862, Mr. Wallace travelled many thousand miles, 
mostly in regions little explored before, especially for natural 
history purposes. Borneo, Java, Sumatra, Timor, Celebes, the 
Moluccas, the Aru and Ke Islands, and even New Guinea were 
visited, some more than once, and long sojourns were made in 
the most interesting regions. Even those who have read his 


delightful "Malay Archipelago," first published in 1869, cannot 
know all the treasures given to science by Mr. Wallace's eight 
years' expatriation, for before writing his travels he had con- 
tributed no fewer than eighteen papers to the transactions or 
journals of the Linnean, Zoological, and Entomological Societies, 
and twelve articles to various scientific periodicals, while in his 
subsequent volumes on "Natural Selection," 187 1, his monumen- 
tal work on the "Geographical Distribution of Animals," 1876, 
on "Tropical Nature," 1878, and on "Island Life," 1880, he laid 
open still more fully his accumulations of travel and thought in 
both hemispheres. One of the most valuable results of his travels 
in Malaysia was the establishment of a line dividing the archi- 
pelago into two main groups, Indo-Malaysia and Austro- 
Malaysia, marked by peculiar species and groups of animals. 
This line, now everywhere known as Wallace's line, is marked 
by a deep sea belt between Celebes and Borneo, and Lombok 
and Bali respectively ; and it is curious that a similar line, but 
somewhat further east, divides on the whole the Malay from 
the Papuan races of man. The new facts on butterflies, on 
birds of paradise, on mimicry between various animals and 
plants, and on the Malay and Papuan races are only a few of 
the subjects of intense interest illuminated by Mr. Wallace as 
the result of his travels in Malaysia. 

In a paper in the Annals and Magazine of Natural History 
for September, 1855, " On the Law that has regulated the Intro- 
duction of New Species," Mr. Wallace had already drawn the 
conclusion that every species has come into existence coinci- 
dent both in space and time with a pre-existing closely allied 
species. In the same paper is a brief expression of the 
idea which Mr. Darwin expanded into one of his fine 
passages comparing all members of the same class of beings 
to a great tree. The varied facts of the distribution of animal 
and plant life, set forth and explained in this paper, foreshadow 
the author's future great work on the subject. Mr. Darwin, 
already an observer and student of long standing on the 
question of the origin of species, had noted this paper and 
agreed to the truth of almost every word of it. In October 
1856, Mr. Wallace wrote to Mr. Darwin from Celebes, and 
in replying to his letter Mr. Darwin, on May 1st, 1857, said 
he could plainly see that they had thought much alike, and 
had to a certain extent come to similar conclusions ; and later 


in the same year he wrote to Mr. Wallace, " I infinitely admire 
and honour your zeal and courage in the good cause of 
Natural Science." 

In February 1858 Mr. Wallace wrote an essay at Ternate, 
" On the Tendency of Varieties to depart indefinitely from the 
original Type," which proved to be the proximate cause of 
the publication of Mr. Darwin's "Origin of Species." The 
manuscript of this paper was sent to Mr. Darwin, and reached 
him on June 18th, 1858, and the views it expressed coincided 
remarkably with those developed in Mr. Darwin's mind by 
many different lines of investigation. He proposed to get Mr. 
Wallace's consent to publish it as soon as possible ; but on the 
urgent persuasion of Sir Joseph Hooker and Sir Charles Lyell, 
a joint communication of some extracts from a manuscript 
written by Mr. Darwin in 1839 1 844, and a letter written by 
him to Professor Asa Gray of Boston, U.S., in 1857, together 
with Mr. Wallace's paper, was made to the Linnean Society on 
July 1st, 1858. As Sir Joseph Hooker wrote, "The interest 
excited was intense, but the subject was too novel and too 
ominous for the old school to enter the lists before armouring ; " 
and there was no attempt at discussion. The further history 
of the " Origin of Species " controversy is well known, and has 
previously been sketched in the first volume of this library. 
What deserves repeating and emphasizing is that Mr. Wallace 
must rank as a completely independent and original discoverer 
of the essential feature of the " Origin of Species." Mr. Wallace 
originally termed his view one of progression and continued 
divergence. " This progression," he wrote in the Linnean essay, 
"by minute steps, in various directions, but always checked 
and balanced by the necessary conditions, subject to which 
alone existence can be preserved, may, it is believed, be followed 
out so as to agree with 'all the phenomena presented by 
organized beings, their extinction and succession in past ages, 
and all the extraordinary modifications of form, instinct, and 
habits which they exhibit." Nothing in scientific history is 
more interesting or more admirable than the way in which 
the two great discoverers in biological evolution fully admired 
and recognized each other's independent work ; and continued 
their intercourse through life untinged by any shadow of un- 
worthy feeling. Mr. Darwin wrote to Mr Wallace on January 
25th, 1859, "Most cordially do I wish you health and entire 


success in all your pursuits, and, God knows, if admirable 
zeal and energy deserve success, most amply do you deserve 
it;" and in 1876 he wrote to him, "You have paid me the 
highest conceivable compliment by what you say of your 
work in relation to my chapters on distribution in the ' Origin,' 
and I heartily thank you for it." 

In one important point Mr. Wallace early found himself 
in divergence from Mr. Darwin. This was as to the limits 
of natural selection as applied to man. Mr. Darwin saw no 
reason to imagine a break or a new force or kind of action in 
regard to the development of man, and especially of his brain 
and mind ; while Mr. Wallace, from the belief that savage man 
possesses a brain too large for his actual requirements, from the 
absence of a general hairy covering in lower men, from the 
difficulty of conceiving the origin of some of man's physical 
and mental faculties by natural selection, and from the nature 
of the moral sense, came to the conclusion that a superior 
intelligence, acting nevertheless through natural and universal 
laws, has guided the development of man in a definite direction 
and for a special purpose. 

This divergence of view from that of Darwinism pure and 
simple may be interestingly illustrated from an autobiographi- 
cal passage in Mr. Wallace's Essays " On Miracles and Modern 
Spiritualism," 1881. He says : "From the age of fourteen I 
lived with an elder brother, of advanced liberal and philosophi- 
cal opinions, and I soon lost (and have never since regained) 
all capacity of being affected in my judgments, either by clerical 
influence or religious prejudice. Up to the time when I first 
became acquainted with the facts of spiritualism, I was a con- 
firmed philosophical sceptic, rejoicing in the works of Voltaire, 
Strauss, and Carl Vogt, and an ardent admirer (as I am still) 
of Herbert Spencer. I was so thorough and confirmed a 
materialist that I could not at that time find a place in my 
mind for the conception of spiritual existence, or for any other 
agencies in the universe than matter and force. Facts, how- 
ever, are stubborn things. My curiosity was at first excited by 
some slight but inexplicable phenomena occurring in a friend's 
family, and my desire for knowledge and love of truth forced 
me to continue the inquiry. The facts became more and 
more assured, more and more varied, more and more removed 
from anything that modern science taught, or modern philo- 


sophy speculated on. The facts beat me." By slow degrees he 
came to believe in the existence of a number of preterhuman 
intelligences of various grades, and that some of these, though 
invisible and intangible to us, can and do act on matter and 
influence our minds. He was thus led to attack the a priori 
arguments against miracles, and to believe that many of the 
so-called spiritualistic phenomena are genuine and occasioned 
by unseen beings. He further championed spiritualism as 
teaching valuable moral lessons, and leading to moral and 
spiritual improvement, when rightly followed out. Here he 
claims that he does not depart in any way from scientific 
principle. "The cardinal maxim of spiritualism," he says, "is 
that every one must find out the truth for himself. It makes 
no claim to be received on hearsay evidence ; but on the other 
hand it demands that it be not rejected without patient, honest, 
and fearless inquiry." 

In yet another field Mr. Wallace has proved himself a bold 
originator. His early gained knowledge of land-tenure and the 
condition of tenants and labourers gave him an experience 
which with riper years produced the conviction that there was 
no way to remedy the evils resulting from landlordism but 
the adoption of a properly guarded system of occupying owner- 
ship under the State as landlord. He has endeavoured to 
show the necessity and the practicability of his views in his 
work entitled " Land Nationalisation, its Necessity and its 
Aims," first published in 1882. In a third edition he has added 
an appendix on the nationalisation of house property, the State- 
being destined, he believes, to become sole ground landlord. 
A later work of his on " Bad Times," 1885, is an essay on the 
then existing depression of trade, tracing it to the evils caused 
by great foreign loans, excessive war expenditure, the increase 
of speculation, and of millionaires, and the depopulation of the 
rural districts. Among other remedies he is strongly in favour 
of the increase of labourers' allotments, and of personal culture 
of the land by the occupier. In the same year his zeal and 
fearlessness in championing causes which he identifies with 
that of liberty, were exhibited in a pamphlet entitled " Forty- 
five Years of Registration Statistics," in which he sought to 
prove vaccination both useless and dangerous. Beside all this, 
Mr. Wallace has been a frequent contributor to scientific trans- 
actions, and to the leading magazines and reviews. Finally, 


this year he has produced a standard work on " Darwinism," 
which is the most perfect as well as the most readable form in 
which the subject has yet been presented. 

Such worthy work has not been without recognition. Mr. 
Wallace was awarded in 1868 the Royal Medal of the Royal 
Society for his many contributions to theoretical and practical 
zoology, among which his discussion of the conditions which 
have determined the distribution of animals in the Malay 
archipelago, as well as his writings on the origin of species, 
found prominent mention. In 1870, he received the Gold 
Medal of the Societe de Geographic of Paris. In 1876 he was 
President of the Biological Section at the Glasgow meeting of 
the British Association. After the publication of his work 
on land nationalisation a Land Nationalisation Society was 
formed, of which Mr. Wallace is President. In 188 1 he was 
awarded a Civil List pension of ^200 a year, in recognition 
of the amount and value of his scientific work ; and in 1882 
the University of Dublin conferred upon him the honorary 
degree of LL.D. 

On all occasions Mr. Wallace has persistently exalted Mr. 
Darwin's work, and, comparatively speaking, made light of his 
own. Full well may we say with Mr. Darwin, " You are the 
only man I ever heard of who persistently does himself an 
injustice, and never demands justice. But you cannot burke 
yourself, however much you may try." The intelligent minds 
which honour the name of Darwin, will not forget to honour 
that of his fellow-discoverer, Alfred Russel Wallace. 

G. T. B. 


AN earnest desire to visit a tropical country, to behold the 
luxuriance of animal and vegetable life said to exist 
there, and to see with my own eyes all those wonders which 
I had so much delighted to read of in the narratives of 
travellers, were the motives that induced me to break through 
the trammels of business and the ties of home, and start for 

" Some far land where endless summer reigns." 

My attention was directed to Para and the Amazon by Mr. 
Edwards's little book, "A Voyage up the Amazon," and I 
decided upon going there, both on account of its easiness of 
access and the little that was known of it compared with most 
other parts of South America. 

I proposed to pay my expenses by making collections in 
Natural History, and I have been enabled to do so ; and the 
pleasures I have found in the contemplation of the strange 
and beautiful objects continually met with, and the deep 
interest arising from the study in their native wilds of the 
varied races of mankind, have been such as to determine my 
continuing in the pursuit I have entered upon, and to cause 
me to look forward with pleasure to again visiting the wild and 
luxuriant scenery and the sparkling life of the tropics. 

In the following pages I have given a narrative of my 
journeys and of the impressions excited at the time. The 
first and last portions are from my journals, with little altera- 
tion ; but all the notes made during two years, with the 


greater part of my collections and sketches, were lost by the 
burning of the ship on my homeward voyage. From the 
fragmentary notes and papers which I have saved I have 
written the intermediate portion, and the four last chapters 
on the Natural History of the country and on the Indian 
tribes, which, had I saved all my materials, were intended to 
form a separate work on the Physical History of the Amazon. 

In conclusion, I trust that the great loss of materials which 
I have suffered, and which every naturalist and traveller will 
fully appreciate, may be taken into consideration, to explain 
the inequalities and imperfections of the narrative, and the 
meagreness of the other part of the work, so little proportionate 
to what might be expected from a four years' residence in such 
an interesting and little-known country. 

London, October, 1S53. 


/ ~PHIS issue is substantially a reprint of the original work, but 
** the proof sheets have been carefully revised and many verbal 
corrections made. A few notes have been added, and English 
names have in many cases been substituted for the local terms 
which were used too freely in the first edition. The only 
omissions are the vocabularies of Indian languages and Dr. 
Latham's observations on them, which were thought to be 
unsuitable to the general reader. The publishers have sup- 
plied a few additional woodcuts which give a fair idea of 
Amazonian scenery. A. R. W, 

Parkstone, Dorset, October t 1889. 




Arrival at Para Appearance of the city and 
its environs The inhabitants and their 
costumes Vegetation Sensitive plants 
Lizards Ants and other insects Birds 
Climate Food of the inhabitants i 



Festas Portuguese and Brazilian currency 
M. Borlaz' estate Walk to the rice- 
mills The virgin forest, its plants and 
insects Milk-tree Saw and rice-mills 
Caripe or pottery-tree India-rubber-tree 
Flowers and trees in blossom Sauba 
ants, wasps, and chegoes Journey by 
water to Magoary The monkeys The 
commandante at Laranjeiras Vampire 
bats The timber-trade Boa constrictor 
and sloth 13 



Canoe, stores, and crew River Mojii 
Igaripe Miri Cameta Senhor Gomez 
and his establishment Search for a din- 
ner Jambouassu Polite letter Baiao 
and its inhabitants A swarm of wasps 
Enter the rocky district The Mutuca 
Difficulty of getting men A village with- 
out houses Catching an alligator Duck- 
shooting Aroyas, and the Falls A noc- 
turnal concert Blue macaws Turtles' 
eggs A slight accident Capabilities of 
the country Return to Para 35 



Visit to Oleria Habits of birds Voyage 
to Mexiana Arrival Birds Description 
of the island Population Slaves, their 

treatment and habits Journey to the 
Lake Beautiful stream Fish and birds 
at the lake Catching alligators 
Strange sounds, and abundance of ani- 
mal life Walk back Jaguar meat Visit 
to Jungcal in Marajd Embarking cattle 
Ilha das Frechas 57 



Natterer's hunter, Luiz Birds and insects 
Prepare for a journey First sight of 
the Pirordco St. Domingo Senhor 
Calistro Slaves and slavery Anecdote 
Cane-field Journey into the forest 
Game Explanation of the Pirordco 
Return to Para Bell-birds and yellow 
parrots 77 



Leave Para Enter the Amazon Its pecu- 
liar features Arrive at Santarem The 
town and its inhabitants Voyage to Mon- 
tealegre Mosquito plague and its remedy 
Journey to the Serras A cattle estate 
Rocks, picture writings, and cave The 
Victoria regia Mandiocca fields A festa 
Return to Santarem Beautiful insects 
Curious tidal phenomenon Leave 
Santarem Obydos Villa Nova A kind 
priest Serpa Christmas Day on the 
Amazon 92 



Appearance of the Rio Negro The city of 
Barra, its trade and its inhabitants 
Journey up the Rio Negro The Lingoa 
Geral The umbrella bird Mode of life 
of the Indians Return to Barra 
Strangers in the city Visit to the 
SolimSes The Gapd Manaquery 



Country life Curl-crested Aracaris 
Vultures and Oncas Tobacco growing 1 
and manufacture The Cow-fish Senhor 
Brandao A fishing party with Senhor 
Henrique Letters from England ... 




Quit Barra for the Upper Rio Negro- 
Canoe and cargo Great width ot the 
river Carvoeiro and Barcellos Granite 
rocks Castanheiro A polite old gentle- 
man Sao Jozc A new language The 
cataracts Sao Gabriel Nossa Senhora 
da Guia Senhor L. and his family 
Visit to the river Cobati An Indian 
village The Serra Cocks of the lock 
Return to Guia Frei Joze dos Santos 
Innocentos 133 



Leave Guia Marabitanas Serra de Cocol 
Enter Venezuela Sao Carlos Pass 
the Cassiquiare Antonio Dias Indian 
shipbuilders Feather-work Marda and 
Pimichin A black jaguar Poisonous 
serpents Fishing Walk to Javita Resi- 
dence there Indian road-makers Lan- 
guage and customs A description of 
Javita Runaway Indians Collections at 
Javita Return to Tdmo A domestic 
broil Marabitanas and its inhabitants 
Reach Guia 159 



Rapid current An Indian Malccca The 
Inmates A Festival Paint and orna- 
ments Illness Sao Jeronvmo Passing 
the cataracts Jauarite The Tushaua 
Calistro Singular palm Birds Cheap 
provisions Edible ants, and earth- 
wormsA grand dance Feather orna- 
mentsThe snake-dance The Capi A 

State cigar Ananarapicoma Fish 
Chegoes Pass down the falls Tame 
birds Orchids Piums Eating dirt 
.' oisoning Return to Guia Manoel 
Joaquim Annoying delays 188 



Difficulties of starting Descending the 
falls Catching an alligator Tame 
parrots A fortnight in Barra Frei 
Joze's diplomacy Pickling a cow-fish 
A river storm Brazilian veracity Wana- 
waca Productiveness of the country 
A large snake Sao Gabriel Sao Joaquim 
Fever and ague 218 



Start for the Uaupes Sao Jeronymo and 
Jauarite Indians run away Numerous 
cataracts Reach Carurii Difficult pas- 
sage Painted Malocca Devil music 
More falls Ocoki Curious rocks 
Reach Uarucapuri Cobeu Indians 
Reach Muciira An Indian's house and 
family Height above the sea Tenente 
Jesuino Return to Uarucapuri Indian 
prisoners Voyage to Jauarite Correct- 
ing the calendar Delay at Sao Jeronymo 




Voyage down the Rio Negro Arrive at 
Barra Obtaining a passport State of 
the city Portuguese and Brazilian enter- 
priseSystem of credit Trade Immo- 
rality, and its causes Leave Barra A 
storm on the Amazon Salsaparilha A 
tale about Death Para The yellow fever 
Sail for England Ship takes fire Ten 
days in the boats Get picked up Heavy 
gales Short of provisions Storm in the 
Channel Arrive at Deal 256 

































Facing Title 

Facing page I 































I, >l 360 

i 11 j u - 







Arrival at Para Appearance of the City and its Environs The 
Inhabitants and their Costume Vegetation Sensitive Plants 
Lizards Ants and other Insects Birds Climate Food of the 

T was on the morning of the 26th of May, 1848, that 
after a short passage of twenty-nine days from Liver- 
U pool, we came to anchor opposite the southern 
entrance to the River Amazon, and obtained our 
first view of South America. In the afternoon the pilot came 
on board, and the next morning we sailed with a fair wind up 
the river, which for fifty miles could only be distinguished from 
the ocean by its calmness and discoloured water, the northern 
shore being invisible, and the southern at a distance of ten or 
twelve miles. Early on the morning of the 28th we again 
anchored ; and when the sun rose in a cloudless sky, the city 
of Para, surrounded by the dense forest, and overtopped by 
palms and plantains, greeted our sight, appearing doubly 
beautiful from the presence of those luxuriant tropical produc- 
tions in a state of nature, which we had so often admired in 
the conservatories of Kew and Chatsworth. The canoes 


passing with their motley crews of Negroes and Indians, the 
vultures soaring overhead or walking lazily about the beach, 
and the crowds of swallows on the churches and house-tops, 
all served to occupy our attention till the Custom-house officers 
visited us, and we were allowed to go on shore. 

Para contains about 15,000 inhabitants, and does not cover 
a great extent of ground ; yet it is the largest city on the 
greatest river in the world, the Amazon, and is the capital of a 
province equal in extent to all Western Europe. It is the 
residence of a President appointed by the Emperor of Brazil, 
and of a Bishop whose see extends two thousand miles into 
the interior, over a country peopled by countless tribes of uncon- 
verted Indians. The province of Para is the most northern 
portion of Brazil, and though it is naturally the richest part of 
that vast empire, it is the least known, and at present of the 
least commercial importance. 

The appearance of the city from the river, which is the best 
view that can be obtained of it, is not more foreign than that 
of Calais or Boulogne. The houses are generally white, and 
several handsome churches and public buildings raise their 
towers and domes above them. The vigour of vegetation is 
everywhere apparent. The ledges and mouldings support a 
growth of small plants, and from the wall-tops and window- 
openings of the churches often spring luxuriant weeds and 
sometimes small trees. Above and below and behind the city, 
as far as the eye can reach, extends the unbroken forest ; all 
the small islands in the river are wooded to the water's edge, 
and many sandbanks flooded at high-water are covered with 
shrubs and small trees, whose tops only now appeared above 
the surface. The general aspect of the trees was not different 
from those of Europe, except where the " feathery palm-trees " 
raised their graceful forms ; but our imaginations were busy 
picturing the wonderful scenes to be beheld in their dark 
recesses, and we longed for the time when we should be at 
liberty to explore them. 

On landing, we proceeded to the house of Mr. Miller, the 
consignee of our vessel, by whom we were most kindly 
received, and invited to remain till we could settle ourselves 
as we should find most convenient. We were here introduced 
to most of the English and American residents, who are all 
engaged in trade, and are few in number. For the four 

1848.] ARRIVAL AT PARA. 3 

following days we were occupied in walking in the neighbour- 
hood of the city, presenting our passports and obtaining license 
to reside, familiarising ourselves with the people and the 
vegetation, and endeavouring to obtain a residence fitted for 
our pursuits. Finding that this could not be immediately 
done, we removed to Mr. Miller's " rosinha," or country-house, 
situated about half a mile from the city, which he kindly gave 
us the use of till we could find more convenient quarters. 
Beds and bedsteads tire not wanted here, as cotton woven 
hammocks are universally used for sleeping in, and are very 
convenient on account of their portability. These, with a few 
chairs and tables and our boxes, are all the furniture we had 
or required. We hired an old Negro man named Isidora for 
a cook and servant of all work, and regularly commenced 
house-keeping, learning Portuguese, and investigating the 
natural productions of the country. 

My previous wanderings had been confined to England and 
a short trip on the Continent, so that everything here had the 
charm of perfect novelty. Nevertheless, on the whole I was 
disappointed. The weather was not so hot, the people were 
not so peculiar, the vegetation was not so striking, as the 
glowing picture I had conjured up in my imagination, and had 
been brooding over during the tedium of a sea-voyage. And 
this is almost always the case with everything but a single view 
of some one definite object. A piece of fine scenery, as 
beheld from a given point, can scarcely be overdrawn ; and 
there are many such, which will not disappoint even the most 
expectant beholder. It is the general effect that strikes at 
once and commands the whole attention : the beauties have 
not to be sought, they are all before you. With a district or 
a country the case is very different. There are individual 
objects of interest, which have to be sought out and observed 
and appreciated. The charms of a district grow upon one in 
proportion as the several parts come successively into view, 
and in proportion as our education and habits lead us to 
understand and admire them. This is particularly the case 
with tropical countries. Some such places will no doubt strike 
at once as altogether unequalled, but in the majority of cases 
it is only in time that the various peculiarities, the costume of 
the people, the strange forms of vegetation, and the novelty of 
the animal world, will present themselves so as to form a con- 


nected and definite impression on the mind. Thus it is that 
travellers who crowd into one description all the wonders and 
novelties which it took them weeks and months to observe, must 
produce an erroneous impression on the reader, and cause him, 
when he visits the spot, to experience much disappointment. 
As one instance of what is meant, it may be mentioned that 
during the first week of our residence in Para, though constantly 
in the forest in the neighbourhood of the city, I did not see a 
single humming-bird, parrot, or monkey. And yet, as I 
afterwards found, humming-birds, parrots, and monkeys are 
plentiful enough in the neighbourhood of Para ; but they 
require looking for, and a certain amount of acquaintance 
with them is necessary in order to discover their haunts, and 
some practice is required to see them in the thick forest, even 
when you hear them close by you. 

But still Para has quite enough to redeem it from the 
imputations we may be supposed to have cast upon it. Every 
day showed us something fresh to admire, some new wonder 
we had been taught to expect as the invariable accompaniment 
of a luxuriant country within a degree of the equator. Even 
now, while writing by the last glimmer of twilight, the vampire 
bat is fluttering about the room, hovering among the timbers 
of the roof (for there are no ceilings), and now and then 
whizzing past my ears with a most spectral noise." 

The city has been laid out on a most extensive plan ; many 
of the churches and public buildings are very handsome, but. 
decay and incongruous repairs have injured some of them, 
and bits of gardens and waste ground intervening between the 
houses, fenced in with rotten palings, and filled with rank 
weeds and a few banana-plants, look strange and unsightly to 
a European eye. The squares and public places are pictur- 
esque, either from the churches and pretty houses which 
surround them, or from the elegant palms of various species, 
which with the plantain and banana everywhere occur; but 
they bear more resemblance to village-greens than to parts 
of a great city. A few paths lead across them in different 
directions through a tangled vegetation of weedy cassias, 
shrubby convolvuli, and the pretty orange-flowered Asdepias 
curassavica, plants which here take the place of the rushes, 
docks, and nettles of England. The principal street, the 
" Rua dos Mercadores " (Street of Merchants), contains almost 


the only good shops in the city. The houses are many of 
them only one storey high, but the shops, which are often 
completely open in front, are very neatly and attractively 
furnished, though with rather a miscellaneous assortment of 
articles. Here are seen at intervals a few yards of foot-paving, 
though so little as only to render the rest of your walk over 
rough stones or deep sand more unpleasant by comparison. 
The other streets are all very narrow. They consist either 
of very rough stones, apparently the remains of the original 
paving, which has never been repaired, or of deep sand and 
mud-holes. The houses are irregular and low, mostly built 
of a coarse ferruginous sandstone, common in the neighbour- 
hood, and plastered over. The windows, which have no glass, 
have the lower part filled with lattice, hung above, so that the 
bottom may be pushed out and a peep obtained sideways in 
either direction, and from these many dark eyes glanced at us 
as we passed. Yellow and blue wash are liberally used about 
most of the houses and churches in decorating the pilasters 
and door and window openings, which are in a debased but 
picturesque style of Italian architecture. The building now 
used as custom-house and barracks, formerly a convent, is 
handsome and very extensive. 

Beyond the actual streets of the city is a large extent of 
ground covered with roads and lanes intersecting each other 
at right angles. In the spaces formed by these are the 
"rosinhas," or country-houses, one, two, or more on each 
block. They are of one storey, with several spacious rooms 
and a large verandah, which is generally the dining-room and 
most pleasant sitting and working apartment. The ground 
attached is usually a swamp or a wilderness of weeds or fruit- 
trees. Sometimes a portion is formed into a flower-garden, 
but seldom with much care or taste, and the plants and flowers 
of Europe are preferred to the splendid and ornamental pro- 
ductions of the country. The general impression of the city 
to a person fresh from England is not very favourable. There 
is such a want of neatness and order, such an appearance of 
neglect and decay, such evidences of apathy and indolence, 
as to be at first absolutely painful. But this soon wears off, 
and some of these peculiarities are seen to be dependent on 
the climate. The large and lofty rooms, with boarded floors 
and scanty furniture, and with half-a-dozen doors and windows 


in each, look at first comfortless, but are nevertheless exactly 
adapted to a tropical country, in which a carpeted, curtained, 
and cushioned room would be unbearable. 

The inhabitants of Para present a most varied and interesting 
mixture of races. There is the fresh-coloured Englishman, 
who seems to thrive as well here as in the cooler climate of 
his native country, the sallow American, the swarthy Portuguese, 
the more corpulent Brazilian, the merry Negro, and the 
apathetic but finely formed Indian ; and between these a 
hundred shades and mixtures, which it requires an experienced 
eye to detect. The white inhabitants generally dress with 
great neatness in linen clothes of spotless purity. Some adhere 
to the black cloth coat and cravat, and look most uncom- 
fortably clad with the thermometer from 85 to 90 in the 
shade. The men's dress, whether Negro or Indian, is simply 
a pair of striped or white cotton trousers, to which they some- 
times add a shirt of the same material. The women and girls 
on most gala occasions dress in pure white, which, contrasting 
with their glossy black or brown skins, has a very pleasing 
effect ; and it is then that the stranger is astonished to behold 
the massy gold chains and ornaments worn by these women, 
many of whom are slaves. Children are seen in every degree 
of clothing, down to perfect nudity, which is the general 
condition of all the male coloured population under eight or 
ten years of age. Indians fresh from the interior are sometimes 
seen looking very mild and mannerly, and, except for holes 
in their ears large enough to put a cart-rope through, and a 
peculiar wildness with which they gaze at all around them, 
they would hardly be noticed among the motley crowd of 
regular inhabitants. 

I have already stated that the natural productions of the 
tropics did not at first realise my expectations. This is princi- 
pally owing to the accounts of picture-drawing travellers, who, 
by only describing the beautiful, the picturesque, and the 
magnificent, would almost lead a person to believe that nothing 
of a different character could exist under a tropical sun. Our 
having arrived at Para at the end of the wet season, may also 
explain why we did not at first see all the glories of the vegeta- 
tion. The beauty of the palm-trees can scarcely be too highly 
drawn ; they are peculiarly characteristic of the tropics, and 
their varied and elegant forms, their beautiful foliage, and 


their fruits, often useful to man, give them a never-failing 
interest to the naturalist, and to all who are familiar with 
descriptions of the countries where they most abound. The 
rest of the vegetation was hardly what I expected. We found 
many beautiful flowers and climbing plants, but there are also 
many places which are just as weedy in their appearance as in 
our own bleak climate. But very few of the forest-trees were 
in flower, and most of them had nothing very peculiar in their 
appearance. The eye of the botanist, indeed, detects numer- 
ous tropical forms in the structure of the stems, and the form 
and arrangement of the leaves ; but most of them produce an 
effect in the landscape remarkably similar to that of our own 
oaks, elms, and beeches. These remarks apply only to the 
immediate vicinity of the city, where the whole surface has 
been cleared, and the present vegetation is a second growth. 
On proceeding a few miles out of the town into the forest 
which everywhere surrounds it, a very different scene is beheld. 
Trees of an enormous height rise on every side. The foliage 
varies from the most light and airy to the darkest and most 
massive. Climbing and parasitic plants, with large shining 
leaves, run up the trunks, and often mount even to the highest 
branches, while others, with fantastic stems, hang like ropes 
and cables from their summits. Many curious seeds and 
fruits are here seen scattered on the ground ; and there is 
enough to engage the wonder and admiration of every lover 
of nature. But even here there is something wanting that we 
expected to find. The splendid Orchideous plants, so much 
sought after in Europe, we had thought must abound in every 
luxuriant tropical forest; yet here are none but a few small 
species with dull brown or yellow flowers. Most of the 
parasitic plants which clothe the stems of every old or fallen 
tree with verdure, are of quite a different character, being ferns, 
Tillandsias, and species of Fothos and Caladium, plants 
resembling the Ethiopian lily so commonly cultivated in 
houses. Among the shrubs near the city that immediately 
attracted our attention were several Solanums, which are allied 
to our potato. One of these grows from eight to twelve feet 
high, with large woolly leaves, spines on both leaves and stem, 
and handsome purple flowers larger than those of the potato. 
Some other species have white flowers, and one much resembles 
our bitter-sweet (Solatium Dulcamara). Many handsome 


convolvuluses climb over the hedges, as well as several most 
beautiful Bignonias or trumpet-flowers, with yellow, orange, or 
purple blossoms. But most striking of all are the passion- 
flowers, which are abundant on the skirts of the forest, and are 
of various colours, purple, scarlet, or pale pink : the purple 
ones have an exquisite perfume, and they all produce an 
agreeable fruit the grenadilla of the West Indies. There are 
besides many other elegant flowers, and numbers of less con- 
spicuous ones. The papilionaceous flowers, or peas, are 
common ; cassias are very numerous, some being mere weeds, 
others handsome trees, having a profusion of bright yellow 
blossoms. Then there are the curious sensitive plants 
{Mimosa), looked upon with such interest in our greenhouses, 
but which here abound as common wayside weeds. Most of 
them have purple or white globular heads of flowers. Some 
are very sensitive, a gentle touch causing many leaves to drop 
and fold up; others require a ruder hand to make them exhibit 
their peculiar properties ; while others again will scarcely show 
any signs of feeling, though ever so roughly treated. They 
are all more or less armed with sharp prickles, which may 
partly answer the purpose of guarding their delicate frames 
from some of the numerous shocks they would otherwise 

The immense number of orange-trees about the city is an 
interesting feature, and renders that delicious fruit always 
abundant and cheap. Many of the public roads are lined 
with them, and every garden is well stocked, so that the cost 
is merely the trouble of gathering and taking to market. The 
mango is also abundant, and in some of the public avenues is 
planted alternately with the Mangabeira, or silk cotton-tree, 
which grows to a great size, though, as its leaves are deciduous, 
it is not so well adapted to produce the shade so much 
required as some evergreen trees. On almost every roadside, 
thicket, or waste, the coffee-tree is seen growing, and generally 
with flower or fruit, and often both ; yet such is the scarcity of 
labour or indolence of the people, that none is gathered but a 
little for private consumption, while the city is almost entirely 
supplied with coffee grown in other parts of Brazil. 

Turning our attention to the world of animal life, what first 
attract notice are the lizards. They abound everywhere. In 
the city they are seen running along the walls and palings, 

I84&3 ANTS. 9 

sunning themselves on logs of wood, or creeping up to the 
eaves of the lower houses. In every garden, road, and dry 
sandy situation they are scampering out of the way as we walk 
along. Now they crawl round the trunk of a tree, watching 
us as we pass, and keeping carefully out of sight, just as a 
squirrel will do under similar circumstances; now they walk 
up a smooth wall or paling as composedly and securely as if 
they had the plain earth beneath them. Some are of a dark 
coppery colour, some with backs of the most brilliant silky 
green and blue, and others marked with delicate shades and 
lines of yellow and brown. On this sandy soil, and beneath 
this bright sunshine, they seem to enjoy every moment of their 
existence, basking in the hot sun with the most indolent 
satisfaction, then scampering off as if every ray had lent 
vivacity and vigour to their chilly constitutions. Far different 
from the little lizards with us, which cannot raise their body 
from the ground, and drag their long tails like an encumbrance 
after them, these denizens of a happier clime carry their tails 
stuck out in the air, and gallop away on their four legs with as 
much freedom and muscular power as a warm-blooded quad- 
ruped. To catch such lively creatures was of course no easy 
matter, and all our attempts utterly failed ; but we soon got 
the little Negro and Indian boys to shoot them for us with 
their bows and arrows, and thus obtained many specimens. 

Next to the lizards, the ants cannot fail to be noticed. They 
startle you with the apparition of scraps of paper, dead leaves, 
and feathers, endued with locomotive powers ; processions 
engaged in some abstruse engineering operations stretch across 
the public paths ; the flowers you gather or the fruit you pluck 
is covered with them, and they spread over your hand in such 
swarms as to make you hastily drop your prize. At meals 
they make themselves quite at home upon the tablecloth, in 
your plate, and in the sugar-basin, though not in such numbers 
as to offer any serious obstruction to your meal. In these 
situations, and in many others, you will find them, and in each 
situation it will be a distinct kind. Many plants have ants 
peculiar to them. Their nests are seen forming huge black 
masses, several feet in diameter, on the branches of trees. In 
paths in woods and gardens we often see a gigantic black 
species wandering about singly or in pairs, measuring near an 
inch and a half long ; while some of the species that frequent 


houses arc so small as to require a box-lid to fit very closely in 
order to keep them out. They are great enemies to any dead 
animal matter, especially insects and small birds. In drying 
the specimens of insects we procured, we found it necessary to 
hang up the boxes containing them to the roof of the verandah : 
but even then a party got possession by descending the string, 
as we caught them in the act, and found that in a few hours 
they had destroyed several fine insects. We were then in- 
formed that the Andiroba oil of the country, which is very 
bitter, would keep them away, and by well soaking the suspend- 
ing string we have since been free from their incursions. 

Having at first employed ourselves principally in collecting 
insects, I am enabled to say something about the other families 
of that numerous class. None of the orders of insects were so 
numerous as I expected, with the exception of the diurnal 
Zepidoptera, or butterflies ; and even these, though the number 
of different species was very great, did not abound in in- 
dividuals to the extent I had been led to anticipate. In about 
three weeks Mr. B. and myself had captured upwards of a 
hundred and fifty distinct species of butterflies. Among them 
were eight species of the handsome genus Papilio, and three 
Morplws. those splendid large metallic-blue buttei flies which 
are always first noticed by travellers in South America, in 
which country alone they are found, and where, flying lazily 
along the paths in the forest, alternately in deep shade and 
bright sunshine, they present one of the most striking sights 
the insect world can produce. Among the smaller species the 
exquisite colouring and variety of marking is wonderful. The 
species seem inexhaustible, and probably not one-half of those 
which exist in this country are yet discovered. We did not 
fall in with any of the large and remarkable insects of South 
America, such as the rhinoceros or harlequin beetles, but saw 
numerous specimens of a large Mantis, or praying insect, and 
also several of the large Mygale, or bird-catching spiders, 
which are here improperly called " tarantulas," and are said to be 
very venomous. We found one which had a nest on a silk 
cotton-tree, formed like the web of some of our house-spiders, 
as a place of concealment, but of a very strong texture, almost 
like silk. Other species live in holes in the ground. Beetles 
and flies were generally very scarce, and, with few exceptions, 
of small size, but bees and wasps were abundant, and many of 

1848.] BIRDS. 11 

them very large and handsome. Mosquitoes, in the low parts 
of the city and on shipboard, are very annoying, but on the 
higher grounds and in the suburbs there are none. The 
moqueen, a small red tick, scarcely visible the " bete rouge " 
of Cayenne abounds in the grass, and, getting on the legs, is 
very irritating ; but these are trifles which one soon gets used 
to, and in fact would hardly think oneself in the tropics with- 
out them. 

Of birds we at first saw but few, and those not very remark- 
able ones. The only brilliant-coloured bird common about 
the city is the yellow troupial {Cassicus icteronotus), which 
builds its nests in colonies, suspended from the ends of the 
branches of trees. A tree is sometimes covered with their 
long purse-like nests, and the brilliant black and yellow birds 
flying in and out .have a pretty effect. This bird has a variety 
of loud clear notes, and has an extraordinary power of imitating 
the song of other birds, so as to render it worthy of the title of 
the South American mocking-bird. Besides this, the common 
silver-beak tanager (Rha?nfihoccelus jacapa), some pale blue 
tanagers, called here " Sayis," and the yellow-breasted tyrant 
flycatchers are the only conspicuous birds common in the 
suburbs of Para. In the forest are constantly heard the curious 
notes of the bush-shrikes, tooo-too-to-to-t-t-t, each succeeding 
sound quicker and quicker, like the successive reboundings of 
a hammer from an anvil. In the dusk of the evening many 
goat-suckers fly about and utter their singular and melancholy 
cries. One says " Whip-poor-will," just like the North American 
bird so called, and another with remarkable distinctness keeps 
asking, "Who are you?" and as their voices often alternate, 
an interesting though rather monotonous conversation takes 
place between them. 

The climate, so far as we had yet experienced, was delightful. 
The thermometer did not rise above 87 in the afternoon, nor 
sink below 74 during the night. The mornings and evenings 
were most agreeably cool, and we had generally a shower and 
a fine breeze in the afternoon, which was very refreshing, and 
purified the air. On moonlight evenings till eight o'clock 
ladies walk about the streets and suburbs without any head- 
dress and in ball-room attire, and the Brazilians, in their 
rosinhas, sit outside their houses bareheaded and in their 
shirt-sleeves till nine or ten o'clock, quite unmindful of the 

12 TRA VELS ON THE AMAZON. [June, 1848. 

night airs and heavy dews of the tropics, which we have 
been accustomed to consider so deadly. 

We will now add a few words on the food of the people. 
Beef is almost the only meat used. The cattle are kept on 
estates some days' journey across and up the river, whence 
they are brought in canoes ; they refuse food during the 
voyage, and so lose most of their fat, and arrive in very poor 
condition. They are killed in the morning for the day's 
consumption, and are cut up with axes and cutlasses, with a 
total disregard to appearance, the blood being allowed to run 
all over the meat. About six every morning a number of 
loaded carts may be seen going to the different butchers' 
shops, the contents bearing such a resemblance to horse-flesh 
going to a kennel of hounds, as to make a person of delicate 
stomach rather uneasy when he sees nothing but beef on the 
table at dinner-time. Fish is sometimes obtained, but it is 
very dear, and pork is killed only on Sundays. Bread made 
from United States flour, Irish and American butter, and other 
foreign products, are in general use among the white population ; 
but farinha, rice, salt-fish, and fruits are the principal food of 
the Indians and Negroes. Farinha is a preparation from the 
root of the mandiocca or cassava plant, of which tapioca is 
also made; it looks something like coarsely ground peas, or 
perhaps more like sawdust, and when soaked in water or broth 
is rather glutinous, and is a very nutritious article of food. 
This, with a little salt-fish, chili peppers, bananas, oranges, and 
assai (a preparation from a palm fruit), forms almost the entire 
subsistence of a great part of the population of the city. Our 
own bill of fare comprised coffee, tea, bread, butter, beef, rice, 
farinha, pumpkins, bananas, and oranges. Isidora was a good 
cook, and made all sorts of roasts and stews out of our daily 
lump of tough beef; and the bananas and oranges were such 
a luxury to us, that, with the good appetite which our walks in 
the forest always gave us, we had nothing to complain of. 



Festas Portuguese and Brazilian Currency M. Borlaz' Estate Walk 
to the Rice-mills The Virgin Forest, its Plants and Insects Milk- 
tree Saw and Rice Mills Caripe or Pottery-tree India-rubber-tree 
Flowers and Trees in Blossom Saiiba Ants, Wasps, and Chegoes 
Journey by Water to Magoary The Monkeys The Commandante 
at Laranjeiras Vampire Bats The Timber-trade Boa Constrictor 
and Sloth. 

About a fortnight after our arrival at Para there were several 
holidays, or "festas," as they are called. Those of the 
"Espirito Santo" and the "Trinidade" lasted each nine days. 
The former was held at the cathedral, the latter at one of the 
smaller churches in the suburbs. The general character of 
these festas is the same, some being more celebrated and more 
attractive than others. They consist of fireworks every night 
before the church; Negro girls selling "doces," or sweetmeats, 
cakes, and fruit ; processions of saints and crucifixes ; the 
church open, with regular services; kissing of images and 
relics ; and a miscellaneous crowd of Negroes and Indians, all 
dressed in white, thoroughly enjoying the fun, and the women 
in all the glory of their massive gold chains and earrings. 
Besides these, a number of the higher classes and foreign 
residents grace the scene with their presence ; showy pro- 
cessions are got up at the commencement and termination, 
and on the last evening a grand display of fireworks takes 
place, which is generally provided by some person who is 
chosen or volunteers to be " Juiz da festa," or governor of the 
feast, a rather expensive honour among people who, not 
content with an unlimited 'supply of rockets at night, amuse 
themselves by firing off great quantities during the day for the 
sake of the whiz and the bang that accompany them. The 


rockets are looked upon as quite a part of the religious 
ceremony : on asking an old Negro why they were let off in 
the morning, he looked up to the sky and answered very 
gravely, " Por Deos " (for God). Music, noise, and fireworks 
are the three essentials to please a Brazilian populace ; and for 
a fortnight we had enough of them,* for besides the above- 
mentioned amusements, they fire off guns, pistols, and cannon 
from morning to night. 

After many inquiries, we at last succeeded in procuring a 
house to suit us. It was situated at Nazare, about a mile and 
a half south of the city, just opposite a pretty little chapel. 
Close behind, the forest commences, and there are many good 
localities for birds, insects, and plants in the neighbourhood. 
The house consisted of a ground-floor of four rooms, with a 
verandah extending completely round it, affording a rather 
extensive and very pleasant promenade. The grounds contained 
oranges and bananas, and a great many forest and fruit trees, 
with coffee and mandiocca plantations. We were to pay 
twenty milreis a month rent (equal to 2 $s.), which is very 
dear for Para, but we could get no other house so convenient. 
Isidora took possession of an old mud-walled shed as the 
domain of his culinary operations ; we worked and took our 
meals in the verandah, and seldom used the inner rooms but 
as sleeping apartments. 

We now found much less difficulty in mustering up sufficient 
Portuguese to explain our various wants. We were some time 
getting into the use of the Portuguese, or rather Brazilian, 
money, which is peculiar and puzzling. It consists of paper, 
silver, and copper. The rey is the unit or standard, but the 
milrey, or thousand reis, is the value of the lowest note, and 
serves as the unit in which accounts are kept; so that the 
system is a decimal one, and very easy, w r ere it not complicated 
by several other coins, which are used in reckoning; as the 
vintem, which is twenty reis, the patac, three hundred and 
twenty, and the crusado, four hundred, in all of which coins 
sums of money are often reckoned, which is puzzling to a 
beginner, because the patac is not an integral part of the 
milrey (three patacs and two vintems making a milrey), and 
the Spanish dollars which are current here are worth six patacs. 
The milrey was originally worth $s. J^d., but now fluctuates 
from 2s. id. to 2s. 4^., or not quite half, owing probably to the 


over-issue of paper and its inconvertibility into coin. The 
metallic currency, being then of less nominal than real value, 
would soon have been melted down, so it became necessary 
to increase its value. This was done by restamping it and 
making it pass for double. Thus a vintem restamped is two 
vintems ; a patac with one hundred and sixty on it counts for 
three hundred and twenty reis ; a two-vintem piece counts for 
four. The newer coinage also having been diminished in size 
with the depreciation of the currency, there has arisen such a 
confusion, that the size of the coin is scarcely any index to its 
value, and when two pieces are of exactly the same size one 
may be double the value of the other. An accurate examina- 
tion of each coin is therefore necessary, which renders the 
making up of a large sum a matter requiring much practice 
and attention. 

There were living on the premises three Negroes, who had 
the care of the coffee- and fruit-trees, and of the mandiocca 
field. The principal one, named Vincente, was a fine stout 
handsome Negro, who was celebrated as a catcher of " bichos," 
as they here call all insects, reptiles, and small animals. He 
soon brought us in several insects. One was a gigantic hairy 
spider, a Mygak, which he skilfully dug out of its hole in the 
earth, and caught in a leaf. He told us he was once bitten 
by one, and was bad some time. When questioned on the 
matter, he said the " bicho " was " muito mat " (very bad), and 
concluded with an expressive " whew-w-w," which just answers 
to a schoolboy's " Ain't it though ? " and intimates that there 
can be no doubt at all about the matter. It seems probable 
therefore that this insect is not armed in vain with such 
powerful fangs, but is capable of inflicting with them an 
envenomed wound. 

During one of our exploratory rambles we came upon the 
country-house of a French gentleman, M. Borlaz, who is Swiss 
Consul in Para. Much to our surprise he addressed us in 
English, and then showed us round his grounds, and pointed 
out to us the paths in the woods we should find most practi- 
cable. The vegetation here on the banks of the river, a mile 
below Para, was very rich. The Miriti (Mauritia flexuosd), 
a fine fan-palm, and a slender species, the Maraja (Bactris 
Maraja), a small prickly tree which bears a fruit with a thin 
outer pulp, of a pleasant subacid taste, were both abundant. 


A mass of cactus, thirty feet high, grew near the house, having 
a most tropical aspect, but this was planted. The thickets 
were full of curious Bro?neliacecz and Arums, and many singular 
trees and shrubs, and in their shady recesses we captured some 
very fine insects. The splendid blue and orange butterflies 
{Epicalia ancea) were abundant, settling on the leaves ; and 
they would repeatedly return to the same tree, and even to 
the same leaf, so that, though very difficult to capture, five 
specimens were taken without removing from the spot. 

On our return to the house M. Borlaz treated us to some 
fine fruits, the berribee, a species of Anona, with a pleasant 
acid custard-like pulp, the nuts of the bread-fruit roasted, very 
similar to Spanish chestnuts, and plantains dried in the sun, 
and much resembling figs. The situation of the house was 
delightful, looking over the river to the opposite islands, yet 
sufficiently elevated to be dry and healthy. The moist woods 
along the bank of the river were so productive that we often 
afterwards availed ourselves of M. Borlaz' kind invitation to 
visit his grounds whenever we felt disposed. As an instance 
of the voracity of the ants, I may mention that, having laid 
down my collecting-box in the verandah during half-an-hour's 
conversation, I was horrified to find, on opening it to put in 
a fresh capture, that it swarmed with small red ants, who 
had already separated the wings from near a dozen insects, 
and were dragging them in different directions about the 
box ; others were at the process of dismemberment, while 
some had buried themselves in the plumpest bodies, where 
they were enjoying a delicious repast. I had great difficulty 
in making them quit their prey, and gained some useful 
experience at the expense of half a successful day's captures, 
including some of the splendid Efiicalias which I so much 

On the morning of the 23rd of June we started early to 
walk to the rice-mills at Magoary, which we had been invited 
to visit by the proprietor, Mr. Upton, and the manager, Mr, 
Leavens, both American gentlemen. At about two miles from 
the city we entered the virgin forest, which the increased 
height of the trees and the deeper shade had some time told 
us we were approaching. Its striking characteristics were, the 
great number and variety of the forest-trees, their trunks rising 
frequently for sixty or eighty feet without a branch, and 


perfectly straight ; the huge creepers, which climb about them, 
sometimes stretching obliquely from their summits like the 
stays of a mast, sometimes winding around their trunks like 
immense serpents waiting for their prey. Here, two or three 
together, twisting spirally round each other, form a complete 
living cable, as if to bind securely these monarchs of the forest ; 
there, they form tangled festoons, and, covered themselves 
with smaller creepers and parasitic plants, hide the parent stem 
from sight. 

Among the trees the various kinds that have buttresses 
projecting around their base are the most striking and peculiar. 
Some of these buttresses are much longer than they are high, 
springing from a distance of eight or ten feet from the base, 
and reaching only four or five feet high on the trunk, while 
others rise to the height of twenty or thirty feet, and can even 
be distinguished as ribs on the stem to forty or fifty. They 
are complete wooden walls, from six inches to a foot thick, 
sometimes branching into two or three, and extending straight 
out to such a distance as to afford room for a comfortable hut 
in the angle between them. Large square pieces are often 
cut out of them to make paddles, and for other uses, the wood 
being generally very light and soft. 

Other trees, again, appear as if they were formed by a 
number of slender stems growing together. They are deeply 
furrowed and ribbed for their whole height, and in places these 
furrows reach quite through them, like windows in a narrow 
tower, yet they run up as high as the loftiest trees of the forest, 
with a straight stem of uniform diameter. Another most 
curious form is presented by those which have many of their 
roots high above the surface of the ground, appearing to stand 
on many legs, and often forming archways large enough for 
a man to walk beneath. 

The stems of all these trees, and the climbers that wind or 
wave around them, support a multitude of dependants. 7)7- 
landsias and other Bro7neliacecBy resembling wild pine-apples, 
large climbing Arums, with their dark green arrowhead-shaped 
leaves, peppers in great variety, and large-leaved ferns, shoot 
out at intervals all up the stem, to the very topmost branches. 
Detween these, creeping ferns and delicate little species like 
our Hymenophyllintn abound, and in moist dark places the 
leaves of these are again covered with minute creeping mosses 


and Ilepaticcz, so that we have parasites on parasites, and 
on these parasites again. On looking upwards, the finely- 
divided foliage, strongly defined against the clear sky, is a 
striking characteristic of the tropical forests, as is repeatedly 
remarked by Humboldt. Many of the largest forest-trees 
have leaves as delicate as those of the trembling Mimosa, 
belonging like them to the extensive family of the Leguminosa, 
while the huge palmate leaves of the Cecropias, the oval 
glossy leaves of the Clusias, and a hundred others of inter- 
mediate forms, afford sufficient variety ; and the bright sun- 
shine lighting up all above while a sombre gloom reigns 
below, adds to the grandeur and solemnity of the scene. 

Flowers were very few and far between, a few small Orchidece 
and inconspicuous wayside weeds, with now and then a white- 
or green-blossomed shrub, being all that we met with. On 
the ground many varieties of fruits lay decaying : curiously 
twisted legumes like peas a yard long, huge broad beans, nuts 
of various sizes and forms, and large fruits of the pot-trees, 
which have lids like the utensil from which they derive their 
name. The herbage consisted principally of ferns, Scitaminece, 
a few grasses and small creeping plants ; but dead leaves and 
rotten wood occupied the greater part of the surface. 

We found very few insects, but almost all that we met with 
were new to us. Our greatest treasure was the beautiful clear- 
winged butterfly, with a bright violet patch on its lower wings, 
the Hcetera esmeralda, which we now saw and caught for the 
first time. Many other rare insects were also obtained, and 
the gigantic blue Morphos frequently passed us, but their 
undulating flight baffled all our efforts at capturing them. Of 
quadrupeds we saw none, and of birds but few, though we 
heard enough of the latter to assure us that they were not 
altogether wanting. We are inclined to think that the general 
statement, that the birds of the tropics have a deficiency of 
song proportionate to their brilliancy of plumage, requires to 
be modified. Many of the brilliant birds of the tropics belong 
to families or groups which have no song ; but our most 
brilliantly coloured birds, as the goldfinch and canary, are not 
the less musical, and there are many beautiful little birds here 
which are equally so. We heard notes resembling those of 
the blackbird and the robin, and one bird gave forth three 
or four sweet plaintive tones that particularly attracted our 

1848.] SAW- MILL. 19 

attention ; while many have peculiar cries, in which words 
may easily be traced by the fanciful, and which in the stillness 
of the forest have a very pleasing effect. 

On reaching the mills we found it was one o'clock, the 
interesting objects on the road having caused us to linger for 
six hours on a distance of scarcely twelve miles. We were 
kindly welcomed by Mr. Leavens, who soon set before us 
substantial fare. After dinner we strolled round the premises, 
and saw for the first time toucans and paroquets in their native 
haunts. They frequent certain wild fruit-trees, and Mr. 
Leavens has many specimens which he has shot, and pre- 
served in a manner seldom equalled. There are three mills 
a saw-mill and two for cleaning rice. One rice-mill is driven 
by steam, the other two by water-power, which is obtained by 
damming up two or three small streams, and thus forming 
extensive mill-pools. The saw-mill was recently erected by 
Mr. Leavens, who is a practical millwright. It is of the kind 
commonly used in the United States, and the manner of 
applying the water is rather different from which we generally 
see in England. There is a fall of water of about ten feet, 
which, instead of being applied to an overshot or breast-wheel, 
is allowed to rush out of a longitudinal aperture at the bottom, 
against the narrow floats of a wheel only twenty inches in 
diameter, which thus revolves with great velocity, and com- 
municates motion by means of a crank and connecting-rod 
directly to the saw, which of course makes a double stroke to 
each revolution of the wheel. The expense of a large slow- 
motion wheel is thus saved, as well as all the gearing necessary 
for producing a sufficiently rapid motion of the saws ; and the 
whole having a smaller number of working parts, is much less 
liable to get out of order, and requires few repairs. The 
platform carrying the log is propelled on against the saw in the 
usual manner, but the method of carrying it back at the end 
of the cut is ingenious. The water is shut off from the main 
wheel, and let on at another shoot against a vertical wheel, on 
the top of the upright shaft of which is a cog-wheel working 
into a rack on the frame, which runs it back with great 
rapidity, and in the simplest manner. One saw only is used, 
the various thicknesses into which the trees are cut rendering 
more inconvenient. 

We here saw the different kinds of timber used, both in the 


log and in boards, and were told their various uses by Mr. 
Leavens. Some are very hard woods resembling oak, and 
others lighter and less durable. What most interested us, 
however, were several large logs of the Masseranduba, or 
Milk-tree. On our way through the forest we had seen some 
trunks much notched by persons who had been extracting the 
milk. It is one of the noblest trees of the forest, rising with a 
straight stem to an enormous height. The timber is very hard, 
fine-grained, and durable, and is valuable for works which are 
much exposed to the weather. The fruit is eatable and very 
good, the size of a small apple, and full of a rich and very 
juicy pulp. But strangest of all is the vegetable milk, which 
exudes in abundance when the bark is cut : it has about the 
consistence of thick cream, and but for a very slight peculiar 
taste could scarcely be distinguished from the genuine product 
of the cow. Mr. Leavens ordered a man to tap some logs 
that had lain nearly a month in the yard. He cut several 
notches in the bark with an axe, and in a minute the rich sap 
was running out in great quantities. It was collected in a 
basin, diluted with water, strained, and brought up at teatime 
and at breakfast next morning. The peculiar flavour of the 
milk seemed rather to improve the quality of the tea, and gave 
it as good a colour as rich cream ; in coffee it is equally good. 
Mr. Leavens informed us that he had made a custard of it, 
and that, though it had a curious dark colour, it was very w r ell 
tasted. The milk is also used for glue, and is said to be as 
durable as that made use of by carpenters. As a specimen of 
its capabilities in this line, Mr. Leavens showed us a violin he 
had made, the belly-board of which, formed of two pieces, he 
had glued together with it applied fresh from the tree without 
any preparation. It had been done two years ; the instrument 
had been in constant use, and the joint was now perfectly good 
and sound throughout its whole length. As the milk hardens 
by exposure to air, it becomes a very tough, slightly elastic 
substance, much resembling gutta-percha ; but, not having the 
property of being softened by hot water, is not likely to become 
so extensively useful as that article. 

After leaving the wood-yard, we next visited the rice-mills, 
and inspected the process by which the rice is freed from its 
husk. There are several operations to effect this. The grain 
first passes between two mill-stones, not cut as for grinding 

1848. RICE-MILLS. 21 

flour, but worked flat, and by them the outer husk is rubbed 
off. It is then conveyed between two boards of similar size 
and shape to the stones, set all over with stiff iron wires about 
three-eighths of an, inch long, so close together that a grain of 
rice can just be pushed in between them. The two surfaces 
very nearly touch one another, so that the rice is forced 
through the spaces of the wires, which rub off the rest of the 
husk and polish the grain. A quantity, however, is broken by 
this operation, so it is next shaken through sifters of different 
degrees of fineness, which separate the dust from the broken 
rice. The whole rice is then fanned, to blow off the remaining 
dust, and finally passes between rubbers covered with sheep- 
skin with the wool on, which clean it thoroughly, and render it 
fit for the market. The Para rice is remarkably fine, being 
equal in quality to that of Carolina, but, owing to the careless- 
ness with which it is cultivated, it seldom shows so good a 
sample. No care is taken in choosing seed or in preparing 
the ground ; and in harvesting, a portion is cut green, because 
there are not hands enough to get it in quickly when it is ripe, 
and rice is a grain which rapidly falls out of the ear and is 
wasted. It is therefore seldom cultivated on a large scale, the 
greater portion being the produce of Indians and small land- 
holders, who bring it to the mills to sell. 

In the morning, after a refreshing shower-bath under the 
mill-feeder, we shouldered our guns, insect-nets, and pouches, 
and, accompanied by Mr. Leavens, took a walk into the forest. 
On our way we saw the long-toed jacanas on the river-side, 
Bemtevi* flycatchers on the branches of every bare tree, and 
toucans flying with out-stretched bills to their morning repast. 
Their peculiar creaking note was often heard, with now and 
then the loud tapping of the great woodpeckers, and the 
extraordinary sounds uttered by the howling monkeys, all 
telling us plainly that we were in the vast forests of tropical 
America. We were not successful in shooting, but returned 
with a good appetite to our coffee and masseranduba milk, 
pirarucii, and eggs. The pirarucii is the dried fish which, with 
farinha, forms the chief subsistence of the native population, 
and in the interior is often the only thing to be obtained, so we 
thought it as well to get used to it at once. It resembles in 
appearance nothing eatable, looking as much like a dry cowhide 

* "Bemtevi" (I saw you well) ; the bird's note resembles this word. 


grated up into fibres and pressed into cakes, as anything I can 
compare it with. When eaten, it is boiled or slightly roasted, 
pulled to pieces, and mixed with vinegar, oil, pepper, onions, 
and farinha, and altogether forms a very savoury mess for a 
person with a good appetite and a strong stomach. 

After breakfast, we loaded our old Negro (who had come 
wiih us to show the way) with plants that we had collected, and 
a basket to hold anything interesting we might meet with on 
the road, and set out to walk home, promising soon to make 
a longer visit. We reached Nazare with boxes full of insects, 
and heads full of the many interesting things we had seen, 
among which the milk-giving tree, supplying us with a 
necessary of life from so new and strange a source, held a 
prominent place. 

Wishing to obtain specimens of a tree called Caripe, the 
bark of which is used in the manufacture of the pottery of the 
country, we inquired of Isidora if he knew such a tree, and 
where it grew. He replied that he knew the tree very well, 
but that it grew in the forest a long way off. So one fine 
morning after breakfast we told him to shoulder his axe and 
come with us in search of the Caripe, he in his usual 
dishabille of a pair of trousers, shirt, hat, and shoes being 
altogether dispensed with in this fine climate ; and we in our 
shirt-sleeves, and with our hunting apparatus across our 
shoulders. Our old conductor, though now following the 
domestic occupation of cook and servant of all work to two 
foreign gentlemen, had worked much in the forest, and was 
well acquainted with the various trees, could tell their names, 
and was learned in their uses and properties. He was of rather 
a taciturn disposition, except when excited by our exceeding 
dulness in understanding w T hat he wanted, when he would 
gesticulate with a vehemence and perform dumb-show with a 
minuteness worthy of a more extensive audience ; yet he was 
rather fond of displaying his knowledge on a subject of which 
we were in a state of the most benighted ignorance, and at the 
same time quite willing to learn. His method of instruction 
was by a series of parenthetical remarks on the trees as he 
passed them, appearing to speak rather to them than to us, 
unless we elicited by questions further information. 

"This," he would say, "is Ocooba, very good medicine, 
good for sore-throat," which he explained by going through the 


action of gargling, and showed us that a watery sap issued 
freely on the bark being cut. The tree, like many others, was 
notched all over by the number of patients who came for the 
healing juice. " This," said he, glancing at a magnificent tall 
straight tree, " is good wood for houses, good for floors ; call 
it Quarooba." " This," pointing to one of the curious furrowed 
trees that look as if a bundle of enormously long sticks had 
grown into one mass, " is wood for making paddles ; " and, as 
we did not understand this in Portuguese, he imitated rowing 
in a canoe ; the name of this was Pootieka. " This," pointing 
to another large forest-tree, " is good wood for burning, to 
make charcoal ; good hard wood for everything, makes the 
best charcoal for forges," which he explained by intimating 
that the wood made the fire to make the iron of the axe he 
held in his hand. This tree rejoiced in the name of Nowara. 
Next came the Caripe itself, but it was a young tree with 
neither fruit nor flowers, so we had to content ourselves with 
specimens of the wood and bark only ; it grew on the edge of 
a swamp filled with splendid palm-trees. Here the Assai 
Palm, so common about the city, reached an enormous 
height. With a smooth stem only four inches in diameter, 
some specimens were eighty feet high. Sometimes they are 
perfectly straight, sometimes gently curved, and, with the 
drooping crowns of foliage, are most beautiful. Here also 
grew the Inaja, a fine thick-stemmed species, with a very large 
dense head of foliage. The undeveloped leaves of this as 
well as many other kinds form an excellent vegetable, called 
here fialmeto, and probably very similar to that produced by 
the cabbage-palm of the West Indies. A prickly-stemmed 
fan-leaved palm, which we had observed at the mills, was also 
growing here. But the most striking and curious of all was 
the Paxiuba, a tall, straight, perfectly smooth-stemmed palm, 
with a most elegant head, formed of a few large curiously-cut 
leaves. Its great singularity is, that the greater part of its roots 
are above ground, and they successively die away, fresh ones 
springing out of the stem higher up, so that the whole tree is 
supported on three or four stout straight roots, sometimes so 
high that a person can stand between them with the lofty tree 
growing over his head. The main roots often diverge again 
before they reach the ground, each into three or more smaller 
ones, not an inch each in diameter. Though the stem of 


the tree is quite smooth, the roots are thickly covered with 
large tuberculous prickles. Numbers of small trees of a few 
feet high grow all around, each standing on spreading legs, a 
miniature copy of its parent. Isidora cut down an Assai palm, 
to get some palmeto for our dinner ; it forms an agreeable 
vegetable of a sweetish flavour. Just as we were returning, we 
were startled by a quiet remark that the tree close by us was 
the Seringa, or India-rubber-tree. We rushed to it, axe in 
hand, cut off a piece of bark, and had the satisfaction to see 
the extraordinary juice come out. Catching a little in a box 
I had with me, I next day found it genuine india-rubber, of a 
yellowish colour, but possessing all its peculiar properties. 

It being some saint's day, in the evening a fire was lit in 
the road in front of our house, and going out we found Isidora 
and Vincente keeping it up. Several others w r ere visible in 
the street, and there appeared to be a line of them reaching to 
the city. They seemed to be made quite as a matter of 
business, being a mark of respect to certain of the more 
illustrious saints, and, with rockets and processions, form the 
greater part of the religion here. The glorious southern con- 
stellations, with their crowded nebulae, were shining brilliantly 
in the heavens as the fire expired, and we turned into our 
hammocks well satisfied with all that we had seen during the 

July ^th. The vegetation now improved in appearance as 
the dry season advanced. Plants were successively budding 
and bursting their blossoms, and bright green leaves displaced 
the half-withered ones of the past season. The climbers were 
particularly remarkable, as much for the beauty of their foliage 
as for their flowers. Often two or three climb over one tree 
or shrub, mingling in the most perplexing though elegant 
confusion, so that it is a matter of much difficulty to decide to 
which plant the different blossoms belong, and should they be 
high up it is impossible. A delicate white and a fine yellow 
convolvulus were now plentiful ; the purple and yellow trumpet- 
flowers were still among the most showy; and some noble 
thick-leaved climbers mounted to the tops of trees, and sent 
aloft bright spikes of scarlet flowers. Among the plants not in 
flower, the twin-leaved Bauhi?iias of various forms were most 
frequently noticed. The species are very numerous : some are 
shrubsj others delicate climbers, and one is the most extra- 


ordinary among the extraordinary climbers of the forest, its 
broad flattened woody stems being twisted in and out in a 
most singular manner, mounting to the summits of the very 
loftiest forest-trees, and hanging from their branches in gigantic 
festoons, many hundred feet in length. A handsome pink and 
white Clusia was now abundant, with large shining leaves, and 
flowers having a powerful and very fragrant odour. It grows 
not only as a good-sized tree out of the ground, but is also 
parasitical on almost every other forest-tree. Its large round 
whitish fruits are called " cebola braba " (wild onion), by the 
natives, and are much eaten by birds, which thus probably 
convey the seeds into the forks of lofty trees, where it seems 
most readily to take root in any little decaying vegetable 
matter, dung of birds, etc., that may be there ; and when it 
arrives at such a size as to require more nourishment than it 
can there obtain, it sends down long shoots to the ground, 
which take root, and grow into a new stem. At Nazare there 
is a tree by the road-side, out of the fork of which grows a 
large Mucuja palm, and on the palm are three or four young 
Clusia trees, which no doubt have, or will have, Orchidecz and 
ferns again growing upon them. A few forest-trees were also 
in blossom ; and it was truly a magnificent sight to behold a 
great tree covered with one mass of flowers, and to hear the 
deep distant hum of millions of insects gathered together to 
enjoy the honeyed feast. But all is out of reach of the curious 
and admiring naturalist. It is only over the outside of the 
great dome of verdure exposed to the vertical rays of the sun 
that flowers are produced, and on many of these trees there is 
not a single blossom to be found at a less height than a 
hundred feet. The whole glory of these forests could only be 
seen by sailing gently in a balloon over the undulating flowery 
surface above : such a treat is perhaps reserved for the traveller 
of a future age. 

A jararaca, said to be one of the most deadly serpents in 
Brazil, was killed by a Negro in our garden. It was small, 
and not brightly coloured. A fine coral snake was also brought 
in ; it was about a yard long, and beautifully marked with 
black, red, and yellow bands. Having, perhaps, had some 
experience of the lavish manner in which foreigners pay for 
such things, the man had the coolness to ask two milreis, or 
4*. 6d. for it, so he had to throw it away, and got nothing. A 


penny or twopence is enough to give for such things, which 
are of no value to the natives ; and though they will not search 
much after them for such a price, yet they will bring you all 
that come in their way when they know you will purchase 
them. Snakes were unpleasantly abundant at this time. I 
nearly trod on one about ten feet long, which rather startled 
me, and it, too, to judge by the rapid manner in which it 
glided away. I caught also a small Amphisbena under the 
coffee-trees in our garden. Though it is known to have no 
poison-fangs, the Negroes declared it was very dangerous, and 
that its bite could not be cured. It is commonly known as 
the two-headed snake, from the tail being blunt and the head 
scarcely visible ; and they believe that if it is cut in two, and 
the two parts thrown some yards apart, they will come together 
again, and join into an entire animal. 

Among the curious things we meet with in the woods are 
large heaps of earth and sand, sometimes by the roadside, and 
sometimes extending quite across the path, making the pedes- 
trian ascend and descend (a pleasing variety in this flat 
country), and looking just as if some " Para and Peru direct 
Railway Company " had commenced operations. These 
mounds are often thirty or forty feet long, by ten or fifteen 
wide, and about three or four feet high ; but instead of being 
the work of a lot of railway labourers, we find it is all due to 
the industry of a native insect, the much-dreaded Saiiba ant. 
This insect is of a light-red colour, about the size of our largest 
English species, the wood-ant, but with much more powerful 
jaws. It does great injury to young trees, and will sometimes 
strip them of their leaves in a single night. We often see, 
hurrying across the pathways, rows of small green leaves ; these 
are the Saiibas, each with a piece of leaf cut as smoothly as 
with scissors, and completely hiding the body from sight. The 
orange-tree is very subject to their attacks, and in our garden 
the young trees were each planted in the centre of a ring-shaped 
earthen, vessel, which being filled with water completely sur- 
rounded the stem, preventing the ants from reaching it. Some 
places are so infested by them that it is useless planting any- 
thing. No means of destroying them are known, their numbers 
being so immense, as may readily be seen from the great 
quantities of earth they remove. 

Many different kinds of wasps' and bees' nests are constantly 


met with; but we were rather shy of meddling with them. 
They are generally attached to the undersides of leaves, espe- 
cially of the young Tucuma palm, which are broad, and offer 
a good shelter. Some are little flat domes, with a single small 
opening ; others have the cells all exposed. Some have only 
two or three cells, others a great number. These are all of a 
delicate papery substance; but some have large cylindrical 
nests, on high trees, of a material like thick cardboard. Then 
again there are nests in hollow trees, and others among their 
roots in the earth, while the solitary species make little holes 
in the paths, and pierce the mud-walls of the houses, till they 
appear as if riddled with shot. Many of these insects sting 
very painfully ; and some are so fierce, that on their nests being 
approached, they will fly out and attack the unwary passer-by. 
The larger kinds 'of wasps have very long stings, and can so 
greatly extend their bodies that we were often stung when 
endeavouring to secure them for our collections. 

I also suffered a little from another of our insect enemies : 
the celebrated chigoe at length paid us a visit. I found a 
tender pimple on the side of my foot, which Isidora pronounced 
to be a " bicho do pe," or chigoe ; so preferring to extract it 
myself, I set to work' with a needle, but not being used to the 
operation, could not get it out entire. I then rubbed a little 
snuff in the wound, and afterwards felt no more of it. The 
insect is a minute flea, which burrows into the skin of the toes, 
where it grows into a large bag of eggs as big as a pea, the 
insect being just distinguishable as a black speck on one side 
of it. When it first enters it causes a slight irritation, and if 
found may then be easily extracted ; but when it grows large 
it is very painful, and if neglected may produce a serious 
wound. With care and attention, however, this dreaded insect 
is not so annoying as the mosquito or our own domestic flea. 

Having made arrangements for another and a longer visit 
to Magoary, we packed up our hammocks, nets, and boxes, 
and went on board a canoe which trades regularly to the mills, 
bringing the rice and timber, and taking whatever is required 
there. We left Para about nine at night, when the tide served, 
and at five the next morning found the vessel lying at anchor, 
waiting for the flood. W 7 e were to proceed on to the mills in 
a montaria, or small Indian canoe, and as we were five with 
the Negroes who were to paddle, I felt rather nervous on 


finding that we sank the little boat to within two inches of the 
water's edge, and that a slight motion of any one of the party 
would be enough to swamp us altogether. However, there was 
no help for it, so off we went, but soon found that with its 
unusual load our boat leaked so much that we had to keep 
baling by turns with a calabash all the time. This was not 
very agreeable ; but after a few miles we got used to it, and 
looked to the safe termination of our voyage as not altogether 

The picturesque and novel appearance of the river's banks, 
as the sun rose, attracted all our attention. The stream, 
though but an insignificant tributary of the Amazon, was wider 
than the Thames. The banks were everywhere clothed with a 
dense forest. In places were numerous mangroves, their roots 
descending from the branches into the water, having a curious 
appearance ; on some we saw the fruit germinating on the tree, 
sending out a shoot which would descend to the water, and 
form another root to the parent. Behind these rose large 
forest-trees, mingled with the Assai, Miriti, and other palms 
while passion-flowers and ^convolvuluses hung their festoons to 
the water's edge. 

As we advanced the river became narrower, and about seven 
o'clock we landed, to stretch our cramped limbs, at a sitio, 
where there was a tree covered with the hanging nests of the 
yellow troupial, with numbers of the birds continually flying in 
and out. In an hour more we passed Larangeiras, a pretty 
spot, where there are a few huts, and the residence of Senhor C, 
the Commandante of the district. Further on we turned into 
a narrow igaripe, which wound about in the forest for a mile or 
two, when a sudden turn at length brought us the welcome 
sight of the mills. Here a hearty welcome from Mr. Leavens, 
and a good breakfast, quite compensated for our four hours' 
cramping in the montaria, and prepared us for an exploring 
expedition among the woods, paths, and lakes in the vicinity. 

Our daily routine during our stay at the mills was as follows : 
We rose at half-past five, when whoever pleased took a 
bath at the mill-stream. We then started, generally with our 
guns, into the forest, as early in the morning is the best time 
for shooting, and Mr. Leavens often accompanied us, to show 
us the best feeding-trees. At eight we returned to breakfast, 
and then again started off in search of insects and plants till 

1846.] MONKEYS. 29 

dinner-time. After dinner we generally had another walk for 
an hour or two ; and the rest of the evening was occupied in 
preparing and drying our captures, and in conversation. 
Sometimes we would start down the igaripe in the montaria, not 
returning till late in the afternoon ; but it was in my early 
expeditions into the forest that I had my curiosity most 
gratified by the sight of many strange birds and other animals. 
Toucans and parrots were abundant, and the splendid blue 
and purple chatterers were also sometimes met with. Humming- 
birds would dart by us, and disappear in the depths of the 
forest, and woodpeckers and creepers of various sizes and 
colours were running up the trunks and along the branches. 
The little red-headed and puff-throated manakins were also 
seen, and heard making a loud clapping noise with their wings 
which it seemed hardly possible for so small a bird to produce. 
But to me the greatest treat was making my first acquaintance 
with the monkeys. One morning, when walking alone in the 
forest, I heard a rustling of the leaves and branches, as if a 
man were walking quickly among them, and expected every 
minute to see some Indian hunter make his appearance, when 
all at once the sounds appeared to be in the branches above, 
and turning up my eyes there, I saw a large monkey looking 
down at me, and seeming as much astonished as I was myself. 
I should have liked to have had a good look at him, but he 
thought it safer to retreat. The next day, being out with Mr. 
Leavens, near the same place, we heard a similar sound, and it 
was soon evident that a whole troop of monkeys were 
approaching. We therefore hid ourselves under some trees, 
and, with guns cocked, waited their coming. Presently we 
caught a glimpse of them skipping about among the trees, 
leaping from branch to branch, and passing from one tree to 
another with the greatest ease. At last one approached too 
near for its safety. Mr. Leavens fired, and it fell, the rest 
making off with all possible speed. The poor little animal was 
not quite dead, and its cries, its innocent-looking countenance, 
and delicate little hands were quite childlike. Having often 
heard how good monkey was, I took it home, and had i* cut 
up and fried for breakfast : there was about as much of \\ as a 
fowl, and the meat something resembled rabbit, without any 
very peculiar or unpleasant flavour. Another new dish was 
the Cotia or Agouti, a little animal, something between a 


guinea-pig and a hare, but with longer legs. It is abundant, 
and considered good eating, but the meat is rather dry and 

One day we took the montaria and started to pay a visit to 
the Commandante at Larangeiras. The morning was beautiful j 
swallows and kingfishers flew before us, but the beautiful 
pavofi (Eurypygia he lias), which I most wanted, wisely kept 
out of the way. The banks of the igaripe were covered with a 
species of fnga, in flower, from which Mr. B. obtained some 
fine floral beetles. Among the roots of the mangroves 
numbers of "calling crabs" were running about; their one 
large claw held up, as if beckoning, having a very grotesque 
appearance. At Larangeiras the Commandante welcomed us 
with much politeness in his palace of posts and clay, and 
offered us wine and bananas. He then produced a large bean, 
very thick and hard, on breaking which, with a hammer, the 
whole interior was seen to be filled with a farinaceous yellow 
substance enveloping the seeds : it has a sweet taste, and is 
eaten by the Indians with much relish. On our expressing 
a wish to go into the forest, he kindly volunteered to accom- 
pany us. We soon reached a lofty forest-tree, under which 
lay many of the legumes, of which we collected some fine 
specimens. The old gentleman then took us along several 
paths, showing us the various trees, some useful as timber, 
others as " remedios " for all the ills of life. One tree, which 
is very plentiful, produces a substance intermediate between 
camphor and turpentine. It is called here white pitch, and 
is extensively collected, and when melted up with oil, is used 
for pitching boats. Its strong camphor-like odour might, 
perhaps, render it useful in some other way. 

In the grounds around the house were a breadfruit-tree, 
some cotton-plants, and a fine castanha, or Brazil-nut tree, on 
which were several large fruits, and many nests of the yellow 
troupial, which seems to prefer the vicinity of houses. Finding 
in Mr. Edwards's book a mention of his having obtained some 
good shells from Larangeiras, we spoke to Senhor C. about 
them, when he immediately went to a box and produced two 
or three tolerable specimens ; so we engaged his son, a boy 
of eleven or twelve, to get us a lot at a vintem (halfpenny) 
each, and send them to Mr. Leavens at the mill, which, how- 
ever, he never did. 

1848.] TIMBER-TREES. 31 

During our makeshift conversation, carried on with our very 
slender Portuguese vocabulary, Senhor C. would frequently 
ask us what such and such a word was in " Americano " (for 
so the English language is here called), and appeared highly 
amused at the absurd and incomprehensible terms used by us 
in ordinary conversation. Among other things we told him 
that we called " rapaz" in Americano " boy," which word (boi) 
in Portuguese means an ox. This was to him a complete 
climax of absurdity, and tickled him into roars of laughter, 
and he made us repeat it to him several times, that he might 
not forget so good a joke ; even when we were pulling away 
into the middle of the stream, and waving our " adeos," his 
last words were, as loud as he could bawl, u O que se chama 
rapaz ? " (What do you call rapaz ?) 

A day or two before we left the mills we had an opportunity 
of seeing the effects of the vampire's* operations on a young 
horse Mr. Leavens had just purchased. The first morning 
after its arrival the poor animal presented a most pitiable 
appearance, large streams of clotted blood running down from 
several wounds on its back and sides. The appearance was, 
however, I daresay, worse than the reality, as the bats have 
the skill to bleed without giving pain, and it is quite possible 
the horse, like a patient under the influence of chloroform, 
may have known nothing of the matter. The danger is in the 
attacks being repeated every night till the loss of blood 
becomes serious. To prevent this, red peppers are usually 
rubbed on the parts wounded, and on all likely places ; and 
this will partly check the sanguinivorous appetite of the bats, 
but not entirely, as in spite of this application the poor animal 
was again bitten the next night in fresh places. 

Mr. Leavens is a native of Canada, and has been much 
engaged in the timber-trade of that country, and we had many 
conversations on the possibility of obtaining a good supply of 
timber from the Amazons. It seems somewhat extraordinary 
that the greater part of our timber should be brought from 
countries where the navigation is stopped nearly half the year 
by ice, and where the rivers are at all times obstructed by 
rapids and subject to storms, which render the bringing down 
the rafts a business of great danger ; where, too, there is little 

* This is a blood-sucking bat (Phyllostoma sp.), misnamed "vampyre," 
while the bats of the genus Vampyrus are fruit-caters. 


variety of timber, and much of it of such poor quality as only 
to be used on account of its cheapness. On the other hand 
the valley of the Amazon and its countless tributary streams, 
offers a country where the rivers are open all the year, and are 
for hundreds and even thousands of miles unobstructed by 
rapids, and where violent storms at any season seldom occur. 
The banks of all these streams are clothed with virgin forests, 
containing timber-trees in inexhaustible quantities, and of such 
countless varieties that there seems no purpose for which wood 
is required but one of a fitting quality may be found. In 
particular, there is cedar, said to be so abundant in some 
localities, that it could, on account of the advantages before 
mentioned, be sent to England at a less price than even the 
Canada white pine. It is a wood which works nearly as easy 
as pine, has a fine aromatic odour, and is equal in appearance 
to common mahogany, and is therefore well adapted for doors 
and all internal finishings of houses ; yet, owing to the want 
of a regular supply, the merchants here are obliged to have pine 
from the States to make their packing-cases. For centuries 
the woodman's axe has been the pioneer of civilisation in the 
gloomy forests of Canada, while the treasures of this great and 
fertile country are still unknown. 

Mr. Leavens had been informed that plenty of cedar is to 
be found on the Tocantins, the first great tributary of the 
Amazon from the south, and much wished to make a trip to 
examine it, and, if practicable, bring a raft of the timber down 
to Para ; in which case we agreed to go with him, for the 
purpose of investigating the natural history of that almost 
unknown district. We determined to start, if at all, in a few 
weeks ; so having been nearly a fortnight at the mills, we 
returned to Para on foot, sending our luggage and collections 
by the canoe. 

Vessels had arrived from the States and from Rio. A law 
had been lately passed by the Imperial Government, which 
was expected to produce a very beneficial effect on the 
commerce and tranquillity of the province. It had hitherto 
been the custom to obtain almost all the recruits for the 
Brazilian army from this province. Indians, who came down 
the rivers with produce, were forcibly seized and carried off 
for soldiers. This w r as called voluntary enlistment, and had 
gone on for many years, till the fear of it kept the natives from 

1848.] boa Constrictor. 33 

coming down to Para, and thus seriously checked the trade of 
the province. A law had now been passed (in consequence 
of the repeated complaints of the authorities here, frightening 
the Government with the prospect of another revolution), 
forbidding enlistment in the province of Para for fifteen years ; 
so we may now hope to be free from any disturbances which 
might have arisen from this cause. 

Nothing impressed me more than the quiet and orderly 
state of the city and neighbourhood. No class of people carry 
knives or other weapons, and there is less noise, fighting, or 
drunkenness in the streets both day and night, than in any 
town in England of equal population. When it is remembered 
that the population is mostly uneducated, that it consists of 
slaves, Indians, Brazilians, Portuguese, and foreigners, and 
that rum is sold at every corner at about twopence per pint, it 
says much for the good-nature and pacific disposition of the 

August $rd. We received a fresh inmate into our verandah 
in the person of a fine young boa constrictor. A man who 
had caught it in the forest left it for our inspection. It was 
tightly tied round the neck to a good-sized stick, which 
hindered the freedom of its movements, and appeared nearly 
to stop respiration. It was about ten feet long, and very 
large, being as thick as a man's thigh. Here it lay writhing 
about for two or three days, dragging its clog along with it, 
sometimes stretching its mouth open with a most suspicious 
yawn, and twisting up the end of its tail into a very tight curl. 
At length we agreed with the man to purchase it for two 
milreis (4s. 6d.), and having fitted up a box with bars at the 
top, got the seller to put it into the cage. It immediately 
began making up for lost time by breathing most violently, the 
expirations sounding like high-pressure steam escaping from a 
Great Western locomotive. This it continued for some hours, 
making about four and a half inspirations per minute, and 
then settled down into silence, which it afterwards maintained, 
unless when disturbed or irritated. 

Though it was without food for more than a week, the 
birds we gave it were refused, even when alive. Rats are 
said to be their favourite food, but these we could not procure. 
These serpents are not at all uncommon, even close to the 
city, and are considered quite harmless. They are caught by 

34 TRAVELS ON THE AMAZON. [^1/^/^,1848. 

pushing a large stick under them, when they twist round it, 
and their head being then cautiously seized and tied to the 
stick, they are easily carried home. Another interesting little 
animal was a young sloth, which Antonio, an Indian boy, who 
had enlisted himself in our service, brought alive from the 
forest. It was not larger than a rabbit, was covered with 
coarse grey and brown hair, and had a little round head and 
face resembling the human countenance quite as much as a 
monkey's, but with a very sad and melancholy expression. It 
could scarcely crawl along the ground, but appeared quite at 
home on a chair, hanging on the back, legs, or rails. It was a 
most quiet, harmless little animal, submitting to any kind of 
examination with no other manifestation of displeasure than 
a melancholy whine. It slept hanging with its back down- 
wards and its head between its fore-feet. Its favourite food is 
the leaf of the Cecropia peltata, of which it sometimes ate a 
little from a branch we furnished it with. After remaining 
with us three days, we found it dead in the garden, whither it 
had wandered, hoping no doubt to reach its forest home. It 
had eaten scarcely anything with us, and appeared to have 
died of hunger. 

We were now busy packing up our first collection of insects 
to send to England. In just two months we had taken the 
large number of 553 species of Lepidoptera of which more 
than 400 were butterflies, 450 beetles, and 400 of other orders, 
making in all 1,300 species of insects. 

Mr. Leavens decided on making the Tocantins trip, and we 
agreed to start in a week, looking forward with much pleasure 
to visiting a new and unexplored district. 



Canoe, Stores, and Crew River Moju Igaripe Miri Cameta Senhor 
Gomez and his Establishment Search for a Dinner Jambouassu 
Polite Letter Baiao and its Inhabitants A Swarm of Wasps Enter 
the Rocky District The Mutuca Difficulty of getting Men A Vil- 
lage without Houses Catching an Alligator Duck-shooting 
Aroyas, and the Falls A Nocturnal Concert Blue Macaws Turtles' 
Ergs A Slight Accident Capabilities of the Country Return to 

On the afternoon of the 26th of August we left Para* for the 
Tocantins. Mr. Leavens had undertaken to arrange all the 
details of the voyage. He had hired one of the country 
canoes, roughly made, but in some respects convenient, having 
a tolda, or palm-thatched roof, like a gipsy's tent, over the 
stern, which formed our cabin ; and in the forepart a similar 
one, but lower, under which most of our provisions and 
baggage were stowed. Over this was a rough deck of cedar- 
boards, where the men rowed, and where we could take our 
meals when the sun was not too hot. The canoe had two 
masts and fore and aft sails, and was about twenty-four feet 
long and eight wide. 

Besides our guns, ammunition, and boxes to preserve our 
collections in, we had a three months' stock of provisions, 
consisting of farinha, fish, and caxaca for the men ; with the 
addition of tea, coffee, biscuits, sugar, rice, salt beef, and 
cheese, for ourselves. This, with clothes, crockery, and about 
a bushel sack of copper money the only coin current in the 
interior pretty well loaded our little craft. Our crew consisted 
of old Isidora, as cook ; Alexander, an Indian from the mills, 
who was named Captain ; Domingo, who had been up the 
river, and was therefore to be our pilot ; and Antonio, the boy | 


before mentioned. Another Indian deserted when we were 
about to leave, so we started without him, trusting to get two 
or three more as we went along. 

Though in such a small boat, and going up a river in the 
same province, we were not allowed to leave Para without 
passports and clearances from the custom-house, and as much 
difficulty and delay as if we had been taking a two hundred 
ton ship into a foreign country. But such is the rule here, 
even the internal trade of the province, carried on by Brazilian 
subjects, not being exempt from it. The forms to be filled up, 
the signing and countersigning at different offices, the applica- 
tions to be made and formalities to be observed, are so nu- 
merous and complicated, that it is quite impossible for a 
stranger to go through them ; and had not Mr. Leavens 
managed all this part of the business, we should probably have 
been obliged, from this cause alone, to have given up our 
projected journey. 

Soon after leaving the city night came on, and the tide turn- 
ing against us, we had to anchor. We w r ere up at five the next 
morning, and found that we were in the Mojii, up which our 
w r ay lay, and which enters the Para river from the south. The 
morning was delightful; the Suacuras, a kind of rail, were 
tuning their melancholy notes, which are always to be heard on 
the river-banks night and morning ; lofty palms rose on either 
side, and when the sun appeared all was fresh and beautiful. 
About eight, we passed Jaguarari, an estate belonging to Count 
Brisson, where there are a hundred and fifty slaves engaged 
principally in cultivating mandiocca. We breakfasted on board, 
and about two in the afternoon reached Jighery, a very pretty 
spot, with steep grassy banks, cocoa and other palms, and 
oranges in profusion. Here we stayed for the tide, and dined on 
shore, and Mr. B. and myself went in search of insects. We 
found them rather abundant, and immediately took two species 
of butterflies we had never seen at Para. We had not expected 
to find, in so short a distance, such a difference in the insects ; 
though, as the same thing takes place in England, why should 
it not here ? I saw a very long and slender snake, of a brown 
colour, twining among the bushes, so that till it moved it was 
hardly distinguishable from the stem of a climbing plant. Our 
men had caught a sloth in the morning, as it was swimming 
across the river, which was about half a mile wide ; it was 


different from the species we had had alive at Para, having a 
patch of short yellow and black fur on the back. The Indians 
stewed it for their dinner, and as they consider the meat a great 
delicacy, I tasted it, and found it tender and very palatable. 

In the evening, at sunset, the scene was lovely. The groups 
of elegant palms, the large cotton-trees relieved against the 
golden sky, the Negro houses surrounded with orange and 
mango trees, the grassy bank, the noble river, and the back- 
ground of eternal forest, all softened by the mellowed light of 
the magical half-hour after sunset, formed a picture indescrib- 
ably beautiful. 

At nine a.m., on the 28th, we entered the Igaripe Miri, 
which is a cut made for about half a mile, connecting the Mojii 
river with a stream flowing into the Tocantins, nearly opposite 
Cameta ; thus forming an inner passage, safer than the naviga- 
tion by the Para river, where vessels are at times exposed to a 
heavy swell and violent gales, and where there are rocky shoals, 
very dangerous for the small canoes by which the Cameta 
trade is principally carried on. When about halfway through, 
we found the tide running against us, and the water very 
shallow, and were obliged to wait, fastening the canoe to a tree. 
In a short time the rope by which we were moored broke, and 
we were drifted broadside down the stream, and should have 
been upset by coming against a shoal, but were luckily able to 
turn into a little bay where the water was still. On getting out 
of the canal, we sailed and rowed along a winding river, often 
completely walled in with a luxuriant vegetation of trees and 
climbing plants. A handsome tree with a mass of purple 
blossoms was not uncommon, and a large aquatic Arum, with 
its fine white flowers and curious fruits, grew on all the mud- 
banks along the shores. The Miriti palm here covered exten- 
sive tracts of ground, and often reached an enormous height. 

At five p.m. we arrived at Santa Anna, a village with a pretty 
church in the picturesque Italian architecture usual in Para. 
We had anticipated some delay here with our passports ; but 
finding there was no official to examine them we continued our 

The 29th was spent in progressing slowly among intricate 
channels and shoals, on which we several times got aground, 
till we at last reached the main stream of the Tocantins, studded 
with innumerable palm-covered islands. 

33 TRAVELS ON THE AMAZON. {September, 

On the 30th, at daylight, we crossed over the river, which is 
live or six miles wide, to Cameta, one of the principal towns in 
the province. Its trade is in Brazil-nuts, cacao, india-rubber, 
and cotton, which are produced in abundance by the surround- 
ing district. It is a small straggling place, and though there are 
several shops, such a thing as a watch-key, which I required, 
was not to be obtained. It has a picturesque appearance, 
being situated on a bank thirty or forty feet high ; and the 
view from it, of the river studded with island beyond island, as 
far as the eye can reach, is very fine. We breakfasted here 
with Senhor Le Roque, a merchant with whom Mr. Leavens is 
acquainted, and who showed us round the place, and then 
offered to accompany us in his boat to the sitio of Senhor 
Gomez, about thirty miles up the river, to whom we had an 
introduction, and who we hoped would be able to furnish us 
with some more men. 

On going to our canoe, however, one of our men, Domingo, 
the pilot, was absent ; but the tide serving, Senhor Le Roque 
set off, and we promised to follow as soon as we could find our 
pilot, who was, no doubt, hidden in some taverna, or liquor-shop, 
in the town. But after making every inquiry and search for 
him in vain, waiting till the tide was almost gone, we determined 
to start without him, and send back word by Senhor Le Roque, 
that he was to come on in a montaria the next day. If we had 
had more experience of the Indian character, we should have 
waited patiently till the following morning, when we should, no 
doubt, have found him. As it was, we never saw him during 
the rest of the voyage, though he had left clothes and several 
other articles in the canoe. 

In consequence of our delay we lost the wind, and our re- 
maining man and boy had to row almost all the way, which 
put them rather out of humour ; and before we arrived, we 
met Senhor Le Roque returning. Senhor Gomez received us 
kindly, and we stayed with him two days, waiting for men he 
was trying to procure for us. We amused ourselves very well, 
shooting and entomologising. Near the house was a large 
leguminous tree loaded with yellow blossoms, which were fre- 
quented by paroquets and humming-birds. Up the igaripe 
were numbers of the curious and handsome birds, called 
"Ciganos," or Gipsies {Opisthocomus cristatus). They are as 
large as a fowl, have an elegant movable crest on their head, 

1848.] " CIGANOSr 39 

and a varied brown and white plumage. I shot two, but they 
were not in good condition ; and as they are plentiful on all 
these streams, though not found at Para, it was with less 
regret that I threw them away. They keep in flocks on low 
trees and bushes on the banks of the river, feeding on the 
fruits and leaves of the large Arum before mentioned. They 
never descend to the ground, and have a slow and unsteady 

In the Campos, about a mile through the forest, I found wax- 
bills, pigeons, toucans, and white-winged and blue chatterers. 
In the forest we found some fine new Reliconias and 
Erycinidce, and I took two Cicadas sitting on the trunk of 
a tree : when caught they make a noise almost deafening ; 
they generally rest high up on the trees, and though daily and 
hourly heard, are seldom seen or captured. As I was re- 
turning to the house, I met a little Indian boy, and at the same 
time a large iguana at least three feet long, with crested back 
and hanging dewlap, looking very fierce, ran across the path. 
The boy immediately rushed after it, and seizing the tail with 
both hands, dashed the creature's head against a tree, killing 
it on the spot, and then carried it home, where it no doubt 
made a very savoury supper. 

We here had an opportunity of seeing something of the 
arrangements and customs of a Brazilian country-house. The 
whole edifice in this case was raised four or five feet on piles, 
to keep it above water at the high spring tides. Running out 
to low-water mark was a substantial wooden pier, terminated 
by a flight of steps. This leads from a verandah, opening out 
of which is a room where guests are received and -business 
transacted, and close by is the sugar-mill and distillery. Quite 
detached is the house where the mistress, children, and servants 
reside, the approach to it being through the verandah, and 
along a raised causeway forty or fifty feet in length. We took 
our meals in the verandah with Senhor Gomez, never once 
being honoured by the presence of the lady or her grown-up 
daughters. At six a.m. we had coffee ; at nine, breakfast, con- 
sisting of beef and dried fish, with farinha, which supplies the 
place of bread ; and, to finish, coffee and farinha cakes, and 
the rather unusual luxury of butter. We dined at three, and 
had rice or shrimp soup, a variety of meat, game or fresh fish, 
terminating with fruit, principally pine-apples and oranges, 

40 TRAVELS ON THE AMAZON. [September, 

cut up in slices and served in saucers ; and at eight in the 
evening we had tea and farinha cakes. Two or three Negro 
and Indian boys wait at table, constantly changing the plates, 
which, as soon as empty, are whipped off the table, and re- 
placed by clean ones, a woman just behind being constantly 
at work washing them. 

Our boy Antonio had here turned lazy, disobeyed orders, 
and was discharged on the spot, going off with a party who 
were proceeding up the Amazon after pirarucii. We now had 
but one man left, and with two that Senhor Gomez lent us to 
go as far as Baiao, we left Vista Alegre on the morning of the 
2nd of September. The river presented the same appearance 
as below, innumerable islands, most of them several miles 
long, and the two shores never to be seen at once. As we had 
nothing for dinner, I went with Mr. Leavens in the montaria, 
which our Indians were to return in, to a house up an igaripe, 
to see what we could buy. Cattle and sheep, fowls and ducks 
were in plenty, and we thought we had come to the right 
place ; but we were mistaken, for the following conversation 
took place between Mr. Leavens and a Negro woman, the only 
person we saw: "Have you any fowls to sell?" "No," 
" Any ducks ? " " No." " Any meat ? " " No." " What do 
you do here then ? " " Nothing." " Have you any eggs to 
sell ? " " No, the hens don't lay eggs." And notwithstanding 
our declaration that we had nothing to eat, we were obliged to 
go away as empty as we came, because her master was not at 
home, and nothing was hers to sell. At another house we 
were lucky enough to buy a small turtle, which made us an 
excellent meal. 

We were to call at Jambouassii, a sitio about fifteen miles 
below Baiao, where Senhor Seixus, to whom we had a letter, 
sometimes resided. The house is situated up a narrow igaripe, 
the entrance to which even our Indians had much difficulty in 
discovering, as it was night when we reached the place. Mr. 
Leavens and myself then went in the montaria up the narrow 
stream, which the tall trees, almost meeting overhead, made 
intensely dark and gloomy. It was but a few hundred yards 
to the house, where we found Senhor Seixus, and delivered the 
letter from his partner in Para" ; and as it is a very good speci- 
men of Portuguese composition and politeness, I will here 
give a literal translation of it. 


" Setihor Joz'e A?itonio Correio Seixus & Co., Baiao. 

"Friends and Gentlemen, 

" Knowing that it is always agreeable for you to have 
an opportunity of showing your hospitable and generous 
feelings towards strangers in general, and more particularly to 
those who visit our country for the purpose of making dis- 
coveries and extending the sphere of their knowledge ; I do 
not hesitate to take advantage of the opportunity which the 
journey of Mr. Charles Leavens and his two worthy companions 
presents, to recommend them to your friendship and protection 
in the scientific enterprise which they have undertaken, in 
order to obtain those natural productions which render our 
province a classic land in the history of animals and plants. 

" In this laborious enterprise, which the illustrious (elites) 
travellers have undertaken, I much wish that they may find in 
you all that the limited resources of the place allows, not only 
that whatever difficulties they encounter may be removed, but 
that you may render less irksome the labours and privations 
they must necessarily endure ; and for men like them, devoted 
to science, and whose very aliment is Natural History, in a 
country like ours abounding in the most exquisite productions, 
it is easy to find means to gratify them. 

" I therefore hope, and above all pray you to fulfil my wishes 
in the attentions you pay to Senhor Leavens and his com- 
panions, and thus give me another proof of your esteem and 

" Your friend and obedient servant, 

"Joao Augusto Correio." 

After reading the letter Senhor Seixus told us that he was 
going to Baiao in two or three days, and that we could either 
remain here, or have the use of his house there till he arrived. 
We determined to proceed, as we wished to send back the 
men Senhor Gomez had lent us, and therefore returned to our 
canoe to be ready to start the next tide. In the morning I 
went on ahead in the montaria, with Alexander, to shoot some 
birds. We saw numbers of kingfishers and small green-backed 
swallows, and some pretty red-headed finches (Tanagra gularis), 
called here " marinheiros," or sailors ; they are always found 

42 TRAVELS ON THE AMAZON. {September, 

near the water, on low trees and bushes. We landed on an 
extensive sandy beach, where many terns and gulls were flying 
about, of which, after a good many ineffectual attempts, we 
shot two. We reached the canoe again as she came to anchor 
at Baiao, under a very steep bank about a hundred feet high, 
which commences a few miles below. Here we had about a 
hundred and twenty irregular steps to ascend, when we found 
the village on level ground, and the house of Senhor Seixus 
close at hand, which, though the floors and walls were of mud, 
was neatly whitewashed. As the house was quite empty, we 
had to bring a great many necessaries up from the canoe, which 
was very laborious work in the hot sun. We did not see a 
floored house in the village, which is not to be wondered at 
when it is considered that there is not such a thing as a sawn 
board in this part of the country. A tree is cut longitudinally 
down the middle with an axe, and the outside then hewn 
away, and the surface finished off with an adze, so that a tree 
makes but two boards. All the boarded floors at Cameta, and 
many at Para, have been thus formed, without the use of either 
saw or plane. 

We remained here some days, and had very good sport. 
Birds were tolerably plentiful, and I obtained a brown jacamar, 
a purple-headed parrot, and some fine pigeons. All round the 
village, for some miles, on the dry high land, are coffee- 
plantations and second-growth forest, which produced many 
butterflies new to us, particularly the whites and yellows, of 
which we obtained six or seven species we had not before met 
with. W T hile preparing insects or skinning birds in the house, 
the window which opened into the street was generally crowded 
with boys and men, who would wait for hours, watching my 
operations with the most untiring curiosity. The constantly- 
repeated remark, on seeing a bird skinned, was, " Oh, the 
patience of the whites ! " Then one would whisper to another, 
" Does he take all the meat out ? " " Well, I never ! " " Look, 
he makes eyes of cotton ! " And then would come a little 
conversation as to what they could possibly be wanted for. 
" Para mostrar " (to show) was the general solution ; but they 
seemed to think it rather unsatisfactory, and that the English 
could hardly be such fools as to want to see a few parrot and 
pigeon skins. The butterflies they settled much to their own 
satisfaction, deciding that they were for the purpose of obtain- 

1848.] A SWARM OF WASPS. 43 

ing new patterns for printed calicoes and other goods, while the 
ugly insects were supposed to be valuable for " remedios," or 
medicine. We found it best quietly to assent to this, as it 
saved us a deal of questioning, and no other explanation that 
we could give would be at all intelligible to them. 

One day, while I was in the woods pursuing some insects, I 
was suddenly attacked by a whole swarm of small wasps, whose 
nest, hanging from a leaf, I had inadvertently disturbed. They 
covered my face and neck, stinging me severely, while in my 
haste to escape, and free myself from them, I knocked off 
my spectacles, which I did not perceive till I was at some 
distance from the spot, and as I was quite out of any path, and 
had not noticed where I was, it was useless to seek them. 
The pain of the stings, which was at first very severe, went 
off altogether in about an hour ; and as I had several more 
glasses with me, I did not suffer any inconvenience from my 

The soil here is red clay, in some places of so bright a 
colour as to be used for painting earthenware. Igaripes are 
much rarer than they were lower down, and where they occur 
form little valleys or ravines in the high bank. When Senhor 
Seixus arrived, he insisted on our all taking our meals with 
him, and was in every way very obliging to us. His son, a 
little boy of six or seven, ran about the house completely 

The neighbours would drop in once or twice a day to see 
how the brancos (white people) got on, and have a little 
conversation, mostly with Mr. Leavens, who spoke Portuguese 
fluently. One inquired if in America (meaning in the United 
States) there was any terra fir ma, appearing to have an idea 
that it was all a cluster of islands. Another asked if there were 
campos, and if the people had mandiocca and seringa. On 
being told they had neither, he asked why they did not plant 
them, and said he thought it would answer well to plant 
seringa-trees, and so have fresh milk every day to make india- 
rubber shoes. When told that the climate was too cold for 
mandiocca or seringa to grow if planted, he was quite astonished, 
and wondered how people could live in a country where such 
necessaries of life could not be grown ; and he no doubt felt a 
kind of superiority over us, on account of our coming to his 
country to buy india-rubber and cocoa, just as the inhabitants 

44 TRAVELS ON THE AMAZON. {September, 

of the Celestial Empire think that we must be very poor 
miserable barbarians, indeed, to be obliged to come so far to 
buy their tea. 

Even Senhor Seixus himself, an educated Brazilian and the 
Commandante of the district, inquired if the government of 
England were constitutional or despotic, and was surprised to 
hear that our Sovereign was a woman. 

We at length procured two men, and proceeded on our 
journey up the river, having spent four days very pleasantly at 
Baiao. As we went slowly along the shore, we saw on a tree 
an iguana, called here a chameleon, which Mr. Leavens shot, 
and our men cooked for their supper. In the evening, we 
anchored under a fine bank, where a large leguminous tree 
was covered with clusters of pink and white flowers and large 
pale green flat pods. Venus and the moon were shining 
brilliantly, and the air was deliciously cool, when, at nine 
( o'clock, we turned in under our tolda, but mosquitoes and 
;sand-flies would not allow us to sleep for some hours. The 
next day we had a good wind and went along briskly j the 
river was narrower and had fewer islands ; palms were less 
abundant than below, but the vegetation of the banks was 
equally luxuriant. Here were plenty of porpoises, and we saw 
some handsome birds like golden orioles. 

On the 9th, early in the morning, we arrived at Jutahi, a 
cattle estate, where we expected to get more men ; but the 
owner of the place being out, we had to wait till he returned. 
We obtained here about a gallon of delicious new milk, a great 
treat for us. We shot a few birds, and found some small 
shells in the river, but none of any size or beauty, and could 
see scarcely any insects. 

As the man we wanted did not arrive, we left on the 10th, 
hoping to meet him up the river. I walked across an exten- 
sive sandbank, where, about noon, it was decidedly hot. 
There were numerous little Carabideous beetles on the sand, 
very active, and of a pale colour with dark markings, remind- 
ing me of insects that frequent similar situations in England. 
In the afternoon we reached a house, and made a fire on the 
beach to cook our dinner. Here were a number of men and 
women, and naked children. The house was a mere open 
shed, a roof of palm-thatch supported on posts, between 
which the redes (hammocks) are hung, which serve the pur- 

1848.] PATOS. 45 

pose of bed and chair. At one end was a small platform, 
raised about three feet above the floor, ascended by deep 
notches cut in a post, instead of a ladder. This seemed to be 
a sort of boudoir, or ladies' room, as they alone occupied it ; 
and it was useful to keep clothes and food out of the way of 
the fowls, ducks, pigs, and dogs, which freely ranged below. 
The head of the establishment was a Brazilian, who had come 
down from the mines. He had in cultivation cotton, tobacco, 
cacao, mandiocca, and abundance of bananas. He wanted 
powder and shot, which Mr. Leavens furnished him with in' 
exchange for tobacco. He said they had not had any rain 
for three months, and that the crops were much injured in 
consequence, At Para, from which we were not distant more 
than one hundred and fifty miles, there had never been more 
than three days without rain. The proximity to the great body 
of water of the Amazon and the ocean, together with the 
greater extent of lowland and dense forest about the city, are 
probably the causes of this great difference of climate in so 
short a distance. 

Proceeding on our way, we still passed innumerable islands, 
the river being four or five miles wide. About four in the 
afternoon, we came in sight of the first rocks we met with on 
the river, on a projecting point, rugged and volcanic in appear- 
ance, with little detached islands in the stream, and great 
blocks lying along the shore. After so much flat alluvial 
country, it had quite a picturesque effect. A mile further, we 
reached Patos, a small village, were we hoped to get men, 
and anchored for the night. I took a walk along the shore 
to examine the rocks, and found them to be decidedly volcanic, 
of a dark colour, and often as rugged as the scoriae of an iron- 
furnace. There was also a coarse conglomerate, containing 
blackened quartz pebbles, and in the hollows a very fine white 
quartz sand. 

We remained here two days ; Mr. Leavens going up the 
igaripe to look for cedar, while we remained hunting for birds, 
insects, and shells. I shot several pretty birds, and saw, for 
the first time, the beautiful blue macaws, which we had been 
told we should meet with up the Tocantins. They are 
entirely of a fine indigo-blue, with a whitish beak ; but they 
flew very high, and we could not find their feeding-place. 
The insects most abundant were the yellow butterflies, which 

46 TRAVELS ON THE AMAZON. {September, 

often settled in great numbers on the beach, and when dis- 
turbed rose in a body, forming a complete yellow and orange 
fluttering cloud. Shells were tolerably plentiful, and we 
added some new ones to our small stock. Since leaving 
Baiao, a small fly, with curiously marked black and white 
wings, had much annoyed us, setting on our hands and faces 
in the quietest manner, and then suddenly piercing them like 
the prick of a needle. The people call it the Mutiica, and say- 
it is one of the torments of the interior, being in many parts 
much more abundant than it is here. 

Mr. Leavens having ascertained that there was no cedar 
within a mile of the water, we arranged to proceed the next 
day, when a pilot and two men from Patos had agreed to 
accompany us to the Falls. In the morning we waited till 
eight o'clock, and no one making their appearance, we sent 
to them, when they replied, they could not come ; so after 
having waited a day, we were at last obliged to go on without 
them, hoping to be able to get as far as the Falls, and then 
return. Cedar was quite out of the question, as men could 
not be got to work the canoe, much less to cut timber. We 
had now altogether been delayed nine or ten days waiting for 
men, and in only one instance had got them after all. This is 
one of the greatest difficulties travellers here have to encounter. 
All the men you want must be taken from Para, and if they 
choose to run away, as they are almost sure to do, others 
cannot be procured. 

At ten in the morning we reached Troquera, on the west 
bank of the river, where there is a small igaripe, on which 
there are some falls. There were several families living here, 
yet they had not a house among them, but had chosen a nice 
clear space under some trees, between the trunks and from 
the branches of which they hung their redes. Numbers of 
children were rolling about naked in the sand, while the 
women and some of the men were lounging in their hammocks. 
Their canoes were pulled up on the beach, their guns were 
leaning against the trees, a couple of large earthen pots were 
on the fire, and they seemed to possess, in their own estima- 
tion, every luxury that man can desire. As in the winter the 
place is all under water, it is only a summer encampment ; 
during which season they collect seringa, grow a little cotton, 
mandiocca, and maize, catch fish and hunt. All they wanted 


of us was ammunition and caxaca (rum), which Mr. Leavens 
supplied them with, taking rubber in exchange. 

We walked about a mile through the forest to the Falls on 
the igaripe. Black slaty rocks rose up at a high angle in the 
bed of the brook, in irregular stratified masses, among which 
the water foams and dashes for about a quarter of a mile : "a 
splendid place for a sawmill," said Mr. Leavens. There were 
no palms here, or any striking forms of tropical vegetation; 
the mosses and small plants had nothing peculiar in them; 
and, altogether, the place was very like many I have seen at 
home. The depths of the virgin forest are solemn and grand, 
but there is nothing in this country to surpass the beauty of our 
river and woodland scenery. Here and there some exquisite 
clump of plants covered with blossoms, or a huge tree overrun 
with flowering climbers, strikes us as really tropical ; but this is 
not the general character of the scenery. In the second-growth 
woods, in the campos, and in many other places, there is 
nothing to tell any one but a naturalist that he is out of Europe. 

Before leaving Troquera, I shot some goat-suckers, which 
were flying about and settling upon the rocks in the hot 
sunshine. We went on to Panaja, where there is a house 
occupied by some seringa-gatherers, and stayed there for the 
night. All along the sandy shore, from Baiao to this place, 
are trailing prickly cassias, frequently forming an impenetrable 
barrier ; and, in places, there is a large shrubby species, also 
prickly. The large-stemmed arums had now disappeared, and 
with them the ciganos. The next morning I went with our 
Indian, Alexander, to visit a lake, about a mile through the 
woods. There was a small montaria, which would just hold 
two, in which we embarked to explore it, and shoot some 
birds. Alligators were very abundant, showing their heads 
every now and then above water. Alexander fired at one, 
which immediately disappeared, but soon came up again, half 
turned over, and with one leg out of water ; so we thought he 
was quite dead, and paddled up to secure him. I seized hold 
of the elevated claw, when dash ! splash ! over he turned, 
and dived down under our little boat, which he had half filled 
with water and nearly upset. Again he appeared at the 
surface, and this time we poked him with a long stick, to see 
if he were really dead or shamming, when he again dived 
down and appeared no more. 


We went to the end of the lake, which was about a mile 
long, and then returned to the place where we had embarked. 
I had shot a kingfisher, and was loading my gun, when 
Alexander shot at a small coot or rail, and having a large 
charge, the shock threw me off my balance, and to save myself 
I dropped my gun into the water and very nearly swamped 
the canoe. I thought my shooting for this voyage was all 
over j but, luckily, the water was only three or four feet deep, 
and we soon hooked the gun up. I employed the rest of the 
morning in taking off the locks, and by careful cleaning and 
oiling got all right again. 

We went on with a fair wind for a few hours, when two of 
our men proposed taking the montaria to go and shoot ducks 
at a place near, where they abounded ; so Mr. B. and myself 
agreed to go with them, while Mr. Leavens proceeded a mile 
or two on, to get dinner ready and wait for us. We had 
about half a mile of paddling to reach the shore, then half a 
mile of walking over a sandy beach, when our Indians plunged 
into the forest along a narrow path, we following in silence. 
About a mile more brought us to some open ground, where 
there was abundance of fine grass and scattered clumps of 
low trees and shrubs, among which were many pretty flowers. 
We walked for a mile through this kind of country, along a 
track which was often quite imperceptible to us, till at length 
we reached an extensive morass covered with aquatic plants, 
with some clumps of bushes and blackened clumps of trees. 

Our Indians, without saying a word, plunged in up to their 
knees, and waded after the ducks, which we could see at a 
distance, with egrets and other aquatic birds. As we could 
do nothing on shore, we followed them, floundering about in 
mud and water, among immersed trees and shrubs, and 
tangled roots of aquatic plants, feeling warm and slimy, as if 
tenanted by all sorts of creeping things. The ducks were far 
from easy to get at, being very wild and shy. After one or 
two ineffectual long shots, I saw one sitting on the top of a 
stump, and by creeping cautiously along under cover of some 
bushes, got within shot and fired. The bird flew away, I 
thought unhurt, but soon fell into the water, where I picked it 
up dead. It had been shot through the head, and flown, I 
suppose, in the same manner that fowls will run after being 


I then came out on to dry land, and waited for the Indians, 
who soon appeared, but all empty-handed. A pale yellow 
water-lily and some pretty buttercups and bladder-worts were 
abundant in the lake. We had a long row to reach the canoe, 
which we found at Jucahipua, where Senhor Joaquim resided, 
who, we had been told, would pilot us up to the Falls. After 
a good dinner of turtle I skinned my birds, and then took a 
walk along the beach : here were fine crystalline sandstone 
rocks, in regularly stratified beds. In the evening a small 
Ephemera was so abundant about the candle as to fall on the 
paper like rain, and get into our hair and down our necks in 
such abundance as to be very annoying. 

In the morning we passed the locality of the old settlement 
of Alcobaza, where there was once a fort and a considerable 
village, but now no signs of any habitation. The inhabitants 
were murdered by the Indians about fifty years ago, and since 
then it has never been re-settled. The river was now about 
a mile wide, and had fewer islands. There was a fine flat- 
bedded sandstone here, very suitable for building. We were 
shown a stone on which is said to be writing which no man 
can read, being circular and pothook marks, almost as much 
like the work of nature as of art. The water was here 
beautifully transparent, and there were many pretty fishes 
variously marked and spotted. 

About noon we reached the " Ilha dos Santos," a small 
sandy island in the middle of the river, where there was a 
house, the inhabitants of which continually asked us for caxaca. 
We had a land-tortoise for dinner to-day, which was as good as 
turtle. Two hours further we landed for the night. The river 
was now very full of rocks and eddies, and we were unable to 
go in our large canoe. The next morning, having put our 
redes and some provisions into the montaria, we started with 
two of our men and Senhor Joaquim, leaving one man and old 
Isidora in charge of the canoe till we returned. In about an 
hour we all had to get out of the boat for the men to pull it 
up a little rapid over some rocks. The whole river is here full 
of small rocky islands and masses of rock above and under 
water. In the wet season the water is fifteen to twenty feet 
higher than it was now, and this part is then safe for large 
canoes. We passed the mouth of an igaripe on the west 
bank ? and another on the opposite side, in both of which gold is 

50 TRAVELS ON THE AMAZON. {September, 

said to exist. Large silk-cotton-trees appear at intervals, 
raising their semi-globular heads above the rest of the forest, 
and the castanha, or Brazil-nut, grows on the river-banks, 
where we saw many of the trees covered with fruit. 

We passed the Ilha das Pacas, which is completely covered 
with wood, and very abrupt and rocky. The rocks in the 
river were now thicker than ever, and we frequently scraped 
against them; but as the bottoms of the montarins are 
hollowed out of the trunks of trees and left very thick, they do 
not readily receive any injury. At three p.m. we reached 
Aroyas, a mile below the Falls. Here the bank of the river 
slopes up to a height of about three hundred feet, and is thickly 
wooded. There was a house near the river, with numerous 
orange-trees, and on the top of the hill were mandiocca and 
coffee plantations. We dined here ; and when we had 
finished, the mistress handed round a basin of water and a 
clean napkin to wash our hands, a refinement we had hardly 
expected in a room without walls, and at such a distance from 

After dinner we went on to see the Falls. The river was still 
about a mile wide, and more wild and rocky than before. 
Near the Falls are vast masses of volcanic rock; one in 
particular, which we passed close under in the montaria is 
of a cubical form, thirty feet on the side and twenty feet high. 
There are also small islands composed entirely of scoria-like 
rocks, heaped up and containing caves and hollows of a most 
picturesque appearance, affording evident proofs of violent 
volcanic action at some former period. On both sides of the 
river, and as far as the sight extends, is an undulating country, 
from four to five hundred feet high, covered with forest, the 
commencement of the elevated plains of central Brazil. 

On arriving at the Falls we found the central channel about 
a quarter of a mile wide, bounded by rocks, with a deep and 
very powerful stream rushing down in an unbroken sweep of 
dark green waters, and producing eddies and whirlpools below 
more dangerous to canoes than the Fall itself. When the 
river is full they are much more perilous, the force of the 
current being almost irresistible, and much skill is required to 
avoid the eddies and sunken rocks. The great cubical block 
I have mentioned is then just under water, and has caused the 
loss of many canoes. The strata were much twisted and 

1848.] AROYAS. 51 

confused, dipping in various directions about 12 , with 
volcanic masses rising up among them. As nearly as we 
could judge by the distances we had come, these rapids must 
be in about 4 of south latitude, where a considerable bend in 
the river occurs. Above are numerous falls and rapids, and 
after a time the forest ceases, and open undulating plains are 
found. From the point we reached, the country becomes 
very interesting, and we much regretted that we were unable 
to explore it further. 

On our return to Aroyas, our men, while descending the 
various smaller rapids, shouted and sang in the most wild and 
excited manner, and appeared to enjoy it amazingly. They 
had had a hard day's work, having paddled and poled about 
twenty miles against a powerful current, in some places so 
strong as to require all their exertions to keep the boat's head 
up the stream. At Aroyas we took some coffee, and then 
turned into our redes in an open shed about twelve feet 
square, at the back part of the house, where six or eight 
other members of the family also found room for themselves. 
We were kept awake some time by our pilot, who had got 
drunk on caxaca, and was very violent and abusive, so to quiet 
him we administered another glass or two, which soon had the 
desired sedative effect. The next morning he looked very dull 
and sheepish ; in fact, most of the Tapuyas, or half-civilised 
Indians, consider it disgraceful to get drunk, and seem ashamed 

After paying our hostess in biscuit, tea, and sugar, which 
were great luxuries to her, we started on our return to the 
canoe, which we reached about noon, having stayed an hour to 
explore the igaripe for gold, but without the smallest success. 
At the canoe we found that Isidora had some turtle stew ready, 
to which we did ample justice, and, finding the man we had 
left with him very ill, went on immediately to Jucahipuah, 
where he could have some "remedios" given him by the 
women. We found there a canoe going to Baiao, and sent 
him by it, as he would thus get home sooner than if he 
remained with us. 

While walking on the beach I saw a tall, narrow-leaved, 
white-flowered Polygonum, so like some of our British species 
as to call up thoughts of home and of my botanical rambles 
there. Many curious land-shells were found, but all dead and 

52 TRAVELS ON THE AMAZON. {September, 

bleached, and though we searched repeatedly we could find no 
living specimens. The feathers of the blue macaw were lying 
about the ground where the people had been feasting off their 
flesh, but we could not succeed in obtaining any specimens. 

Every night, while in the upper part of the river, we had a 
concert of frogs, which made most extraordinary noises. 
There are three kinds, which can frequently be all heard at 
once. One of these makes a noise something like what one 
would expect a frog to make, namely a dismal croak, but the 
sounds uttered by the others were like no animal noise that 
I ever heard before. A distant railway-train approaching, and 
a blacksmith hammering on his anvil, are what they exactly 
resemble. They are such true imitations, that when lying 
half-dozing in the canoe I have often fancied myself at home, 
hearing the familiar sounds of the approaching mail-train, and 
the hammering of the boiler-makers at the iron-works. Then 
we often had the " guarhibas," or howling monkeys, with their 
terrific noises, the shrill grating whistle of the cicadas and 
locusts, and the peculiar notes of the suaciiras and other 
aquatic birds ; add to these the loud unpleasant hum of the 
mosquito in your immediate vicinity, and you have a pretty 
good idea of our nightly concert on the Tocantins. 

On the morning of the 19th, at Panaja, where we had passed 
the night, I took my gun and went into the forest, but found 
nothing. I saw, however, an immense silk-cotton-tree, one of 
the buttresses of which ran out twenty feet from the trunk. 
On the beach was a pretty yellow CE?iothera^ which is common 
all along this part of the river, as well as a small white passion- 
flower. Mr. Leavens here bought some rubber, and we then 
rowed or sailed on for the rest of the day. In the afternoon I 
took the montaria, with Isidora, to try and shoot some of the 
pretty yellow orioles. I killed one, but it stuck in a thick 
prickly tree, and we were obliged to come away without it. 
We passed Patos in the afternoon ; near it was a tree covered 
with a mass of bright yellow blossoms, more brilliant than 
laburnum, and a really gorgeous sight. 

The next day we left the land of the blue macaw without a 
single specimen. From this place to the Falls we had seen 
them every day, morning and evening, flying high over the 
river. At almost every house feathers were on the ground, 
showing that this splendid bird is often shot for food. Alex- 

iS 4 3.] BLUE MACAWS. 53 

ander once had a chance at them, but his gun missed fire, and 
they immediately flew off. Lower down the river they are 
scarcely ever seen, and never below Baiao, while from this 
place up they are very abundant. What can be the causes 
which so exactly limit the range of such a strongly-flying bird ? 
It appears with the rock, and with this there is no doubt a 
corresponding change in the fruits on which the birds feed. 

Our Indians seeing a likely place on the beach for turtles' 
eggs, went on shore in the montaria, and were fortunate 
enough to find a hundred and twenty-three buried in the sand. 
They are oily and very savoury, and we had an immense 
omelet for dinner. The shell is leathery, and the white never 
coagulates, but is thrown away, and the yolk only eaten. The 
Indians eat them also raw, mixed with farinha. We dined on 
the beach, where there was abundance of a plant much resem- 
bling chamomile. The sands were very hot, so that it was 
almost impossible to walk over them barefooted. The Indians, 
in crossing extensive beaches, stop and dig holes in the sand 
to cool their feet in. We now got on very slowly, having to 
tack across and across the river, the wind blowing up it, as it 
always does at this season. 

Where we stopped for breakfast on the 21st, I shot a very 
prettily-marked small hawk. Insects were also rather abundant, 
and we captured some fine jPaflz'/ios, and two or three new 
species of clear-winged Heliconia. Alexander found a bees'- 
nest in a hole in a tree, and got about two quarts of honey, 
which when strained was very sweet, but with a hot waxy taste. 
The comb consists of oval cells of black wax, very irregular in 
shape and size, and displaying little of the skill of our bees at 
home. The next night, rather late, we arrived at Jambouassu, 
the sitio of Senhor Seixus, where we were kindly received, and, 
about nine o'clock, turned into our redes in his verandah. 

The next morning I walked out to examine the premises. 
The whole of the forest, for some miles round the house, is a 
cacao plantation, there being about sixty thousand trees, which 
have all been planted ; the small trees and brush having been 
cleared from the forest, but all the seringa and other large 
forest-trees left for shade, which the cacao requires. The 
milk from the seringa-trees is collected every morning in 
large univalve shells, which are stuck with clay to the tree, and 
a small incision made in the bark above. It is formed into 

54 TRAVELS ON THE AMAZON. [September^ 

shoes or bottles, on moulds of clay, or into flat cakes. It 
hardens in a few hours, and is blackened with a smoke pro- 
duced by burning the nuts of the Urucuri palm, and is then 
india-rudder. Just before leaving this place I met with an 
accident, which might have been very serious. My gun was 
lying loaded on the top of the canoe, and wishing to shoot 
some small birds near the house, I drew it towards me by the 
muzzle, which, standing on the steps of the landing-place, was 
the only part I could reach. The hammer, however, lay in a 
joint of the boards, and as I drew the gun towards me it was 
raised up, and let fall on the cap, firing off the gun, the charge 
carrying off a small piece of the under-side of my hand near 
the wrist, and, passing under my arm within a few inches of 
my body luckily missed a number of people who were behind 
me. I felt my hand violently blown away, and looking at it, 
saw a stream of blood, but felt no pain for some minutes. As 
we had nothing to put to it, I tied it up with a quantity of 
cotton ; and about twelve o'clock, the tide serving, we bade 
adieu to Senhor Seixus, who had treated us very kindly both 
here and at Baiao. 

On the 24th we stayed for the tide, at a house on an island 
abounding in cacao and seringa. The water of the river had 
become muddy, but not ill-tasted. On the 25th we stayed at a 
sugar estate, where there was a tree full of the hanging nests 
of the japims, or yellow troupials. Seeing a number of the 
large frigate-bird pelican over the river, I went out with 
Alexander in the montaria to try and shoot one, and, after a 
few ineffectual shots, Alexander succeeded in doing so. It 
measured seven feet from wing' to wing; the feet were very 
small and webbed, and the bill long and hooked at the end. 
They appear almost to live upon the wing, going in small 
flocks over the river, and darting down to seize any fish which 
may appear near the surface. The neck is partly bare, and 
very extensible, like that of the true pelicans. There are two 
kinds, which fly together, one with the body entirely black, 
the other with the head and neck white, which are said to be 
the male and female of the same species. 

On the 26th we stayed for the tide at a low island covered 
with palms and underwood. Just as we were going to step on 
shore we saw a large snake twisted on a branch overhead, so 
we hung back a little till Mr. Leavens shot it. It was about 


ten feet long, and very handsomely marked with yellow and 
black slanting lines. In the wood we got some assai, and 
made a quantity of the drink so much liked by the people 
here, and which is very good when you are used to it. The 
fruit grows in large bunches on the summit of a graceful palm, 
and is about the size and colour of a sloe. On examining it, 
a person would think that it contained nothing eatable, as 
immediately under the skin is a hard stone. The very thin, 
hardly perceptible pulp, between the skin and the stone, is 
what is used. To prepare it, the fruit is soaked half an hour 
in water, just warm enough to bear the hand in. It is next 
rubbed and kneaded with the hands, till all the skin and pulp 
is worn off the stones. The liquid is then poured off, and 
strained, and is of the consistence of cream, and of a fine 
purple colour. It is eaten with sugar and farinha; with use 
it becomes very agreeable to the taste, something resembling 
nuts and cream, and is no doubt very nourishing ; it is much 
used in Para, where it is constantly sold in the streets, and, 
owing to the fruit ripening at different seasons, according to 
the locality, is to be had there all the year round. 

On the east side of the river, along which we had kept in 
our descent, there was more cultivation than on the side we 
went up. A short distance from the shore the land rises, and 
most of the houses are situated on the slope, with the ground 
cleared down to the river. Some of the places are kept in 
tolerable order, but there are numbers' of houses and cottages 
unoccupied and in ruins, with land once cultivated, overgrown 
with weeds and brushwood. Rubber-making and gathering 
cacao and Brazil-nuts are better liked than the regular cultiva- 
tion of the soil. 

In the districts we passed through, sugar, cotton, coffee, 
and rice might be grown in any quantity and of the finest 
quality. The navigation is always safe and uninterrupted, and 
the whole country is so intersected by igaripes and rivers that 
every estate has water-carriage for its productions. But the 
indolent disposition of the people, and the scarcity of labour, 
will prevent the capabilities of this fine country from being 
developed till European or North American colonies are 
formed. There is no country in the world where people can 
produce for themselves so many of the necessaries and luxuries 
of Life. Indian corn, rice, mandiocca, sugar, coffee, and cotton, 

56 TRAVELS ON THE AMAZON [September, 1848. 

beef, poultry, and pork, with oranges, bananas, and abundance 
of other fruits and vegetables, thrive with little care. With 
these articles in abundance, a house of wood, calabashes, cups 
and pottery of the country, they may live in plenty without 
a single exotic production. And then what advantages there 
are in a country where there is no stoppage of agricultural 
operations during winter, but where crops may be had, and 
poultry be reared, all the year round ; where the least possible 
amount of clothing is the most comfortable, and where a 
hundred little necessaries of a cold region are altogether 
superfluous. With regard to the climate I have said enough 
already; and I repeat, that a man can work as well here as 
in the hot summer months in England, and that if he will only 
work three hours in the morning and three in the evening, he 
will produce more of the necessaries and comforts of life than 
by twelve hours' daily labour at home. 

Nothing more of importance occurred, and we arrived safely 
at Para on the 30th of September, just five weeks from the 
day we left. We had not had a wet day the whole voyage, 
yet found to our surprise that it had been there the same as 
usual a shower and a thunderstorm every second or third 



Visit to Olen'a Habits of Birds Voyage to Mexiana Arrival Birds 
Description of the Island Population Slaves, their Treatment and 
Habits Journey' to the Lake Beautiful Stream Fish and Birds at 
the Lake Catching Alligators Strange Sounds, and Abundance of 
Animal Life Walk back Jaguar Meat Visit to Jungcal in Marajo 
Embarking Cattle Uha das Frechas. 

Soon after our return to Para, my hand became so much 
inflamed, that I was obliged to put my arm in a sling, and 
go to a doctor, under whose treatment I remained a fortnight, 
unable to do anything, not even pin an insect, and conse- 
quently rather miserable. As I intended, as soon as possible, 
going to the great island of Marajo, in search of some of the 
curious and rare water-birds which abound there, I obtained 
permission from Mr. C, an English gentleman, to visit his 
cattle estates ; but as there was no canoe going there for some 
weeks, I spent the interim at Oleria, where M. Borlaz kindly 
offered me a room and a place at his table. 

I found plenty of occupation in procuring specimens of the 
various small birds, and making myself acquainted with their 
habits. None were more abundant, both in species and 
individuals, than the bush-shrikes, which are all remarkable 
for the same kind of falling note I have already alluded to, 
though each one has some slight peculiarity by which it may 
be distinguished. They generally hide themselves in the very 
thickest and most impenetrable bushes, where it is impossible 
to see them except by creeping up within a distance of two 
yards, when it is difficult to shoot without blowing them to 
pieces. They are small birds with very loose, long, silky 
feathers, prettily banded or spotted with black and white, and 


are constantly hopping about the bushes and twigs, picking off 
whatever small insects they fall in with. 

The ant-thrushes are another closely allied group, which are 
equally abundant. They have stronger legs and very short 
tails, and walk more on the ground, picking up insects, espe- 
cially ants, very much after the manner of poultry. "When one 
is shot, it is often a dangerous matter to go and fetch it, for 
the ground generally swarms with ants, which attack an 
intruder most unmercifully both with stings and jaws. Many 
times, after a fruitless attempt, have I been obliged to leave 
the dead body on the field, and beat an inglorious retreat. 

In all works on Natural History, we constantly find details 
of the marvellous adaptation of animals to their food, their 
habits, and the localities in which they are found. But 
naturalists are now beginning to look beyond this, and to see 
that there must be some other principle regulating the infinitely 
varied forms of animal life. It must strike every one, that 
the numbers of birds and insects of different groups, having 
scarcely any resemblance to each other, which yet feed on the 
same food and inhabit the same localities, cannot have been 
so differently constructed and adorned for that purpose alone. 
Thus the goat-suckers, the swallows, the tyrant fly-catchers, and 
the jacamars, all use the same kind of food, and procure it 
in the same manner : they all capture insects on the wing, yet 
how entirely different is the structure and the whole appearance 
of these birds ! The swallows, with their powerful wings, are 
almost entirely inhabitants of the air ; the goat-suckers, nearly 
allied to them, but of a much weaker structure, and with 
largely developed eyes, are semi-nocturnal birds, sometimes 
flying in the evening in company with the swallows, but most 
frequently settling on the ground, seizing their prey by short 
flights from it, and then returning to the same spot. The 
fly-catchers are strong-legged, but short-winged birds, which 
can perch, but cannot fly with the ease of the swallows : they 
generally seat themselves on a bare tree, and from it watch 
for any insects which may come within reach of a short swoop, 
and which their broad bills and wide gape enable them to 
seize. But with the jacamars this is not the case : their bills 
are long and pointed in fact, a weak kingfisher's bill yet 
they have similar habits to the preceding : they sit on branches 
in open parts of the forest, from thence flying after insects, 

1848.] HABITS OF BIRDS. 59 

which they catch on the wing, and then return to their former 
station to devour thern. Then there are the trogons, with a 
strong serrated bill, which have similar habits ; and the little 
humming-birds, though they generally procure insects from 
the flowers, often take them on the wing, like any other fissi- 
rostral bird. 

What birds can have their bills more peculiarly formed than 
the ibis, the spoonbill, and the heron ? Yet they may be seen 
side by side, picking up the same food from the shallow 
water on the beach ; and on opening their stomachs, we find 
the same little Crustacea and shell-fish in them all. Then 
among the fruit-eating birds, there are pigeons, parrots, toucans, 
and chatterers, families as distinct and widely separated as 
possible, which yet may be often seen feeding all together on 
the same tree; for in the forests of South America, certain 
fruits are favourites with almost every kind of fruit-eating bird. 
It has been assumed by some writers on Natural History, that 
every wild fruit is the food of some bird or animal, and that 
the varied forms and structure of their mouths may be neces- 
sitated by the peculiar character of the fruits they are to feed 
on ; but there is more of imagination than fact in this 
statement : the number of wild fruits furnishing food for birds 
is very limited, and birds of the most varied structure and of 
every size will be found visiting the same tree. 

Insects were now more abundant than ever, and new kinds 
were met with almost every day. Lovely little butterflies, 
spangled with gold, or glittering with the most splendid 
metallic tints, hid themselves under leaves or expanded their 
wings in the morning sun ; while the larger and more majestic 
kinds flew lazily along the shaded forest paths. The more 
sombre Hesperidcz were the most abundant, and it would often 
happen that, of a dozen specimens taken in a day's excursion, 
no two were alike. 

At length the canoe, for which I had been waiting, was 
ready to sail ; and on the 3rd of November we left Para for 
the island of Mexiana, situated in the main stream of the 
Amazon, between the great island of Marajo and the northern 
shore. We had to go down the Para river, and round the 
eastern point of Marajo, where we were quite exposed to the 
ocean ; and, though most of the time in fresh water, I was very 
sea-sick all the voyage, which lasted four days. The canoe was 

60 TRAVELS ON THE AMAZON", [November, 

intended for the conveyance of cattle, and therefore had no 
particular accommodation for human passengers. There was 
certainly a little cabin, with two berths just five feet long, but 
not at all suitable for me (I am six feet two inches high), 
so I preferred the hold. Our crew consisted of eight young 
Tapuyas, fine active fellows, from fifteen to twenty years of age. 
Each wore a tight-fitting pair of trousers and a very short shirt, so 
that six inches of red skin appeared between the two garments. 
The shrouds of the canoe consisted of the stay-ropes only, 
without any rattlins or cross-steps, yet up these they would run 
like monkeys, holding on with their toes. 

The island of Mexiana is about twenty-five miles long by 
twelve broad, of a regular oval shape, and is situated exactly 
on the equator. It is quite flat, and is all camflo, or open 
ground, but dotted with scattered trees and bushes, and with 
a little forest at the water's edge. It is celebrated for its birds, 
alligators, and oncas, and is used as a cattle estate by the pro- 
prietor. The alligators abound in a lake in the centre of the 
island, where they are killed in great numbers for their fat, 
which is made into oil. 

I was accompanied by Mr. Yates, a collector of Orchids, 
who, after a few weeks' stay, not finding much variety of those 
plants, returned to Para. On our arrival we were received by 
Senhor Leonardo, a German, who is the overseer, to whom we 
presented our letter from Mr. C. We were then shown the 
rooms we were to occupy in the house, which is spacious and 
has an upper story ; and having got our luggage on shore, we 
soon made ourselves at home. Round the house are a good 
many orange and mango trees, behind which is a row of 
cottages, where reside the vaqueiros or herdsmen, who are 
mostly Negroes and slaves j and beyond, as far as the eye can 
reach, is the flat campo, dotted over with cattle and horses. 

On inquiring about the best localities for insects, birds, and 
plants, we were rather alarmed by being told that oncas were 
very numerous, even near the house, and that it w r as dangerous 
to walk out alone or unarmed. We soon found, however, that 
no one had been actually attacked by them j though they, 
poor animals, are by no means unmolested, as numerous 
handsome skins drying in the sun, and teeth and skulls lying 
about, sufficiently proved. There is no doubt but they are 
unpleasant animals to encounter, and their teeth and claws are 

1848.] ME XI AN A. 61 

so fearfully adapted to destroy whatever may come within their 
reach, that it is much better to be a little cautious, than to run 
any risk : I therefore put half-a-dozen bullets in my game-bag, 
in case of an encounter. 

Some of the horses and cattle were miserable-looking objects, 
from wounds inflicted by the bats, which cause them to lose 
much blood, and sometimes, by successive attacks, kill them. 
Senhor Leonardo informed us that they particularly abounded 
in some parts of the island, and that he often has bat-hunts, 
when several thousands are killed. It is a large species, of 
coffee-brown colour, probably the Phyllostotna hastatum. 

The morning after my arrival I took my gun, and walked 
out to see what sport the island afforded. First going to a 
tree near the house, which Senhor Leonardo pointed out to 
me, I found numerous humming-birds fluttering about the 
leaves (which were still wet with dew), and seeming to wash 
and cool themselves with the moisture : they were of a blue 
and green colour, with a long forked tail {Campy lop terus hirun- 
dinaceus). Walking on in the campo, I found abundance of 
Bemtevi fly-catchers, cuckoos, and tanagers, and also shot a 
buzzard and a black eagle different from any I had seen 
at Para. Insects were very scarce, owing to the dryness of 
the season and the absence of forest; so I soon gave up 
collecting them, and attended entirely to birds, which were 
rather plentiful, though not very rare or handsome. In ten 
days I obtained seventy specimens, among which were fourteen 
hawks and eagles, several herons, egrets, paroquets, wood- 
peckers, and one of the large yellow-billed toucans (Rham- 
phastos Toco), which are not found at Para. 

Having made several excursions for some miles into the 
interior of the island and along the coast, I obtained a 
tolerable idea of its geography. It is everywhere a perfect flat, 
the greatest elevations being a very few feet. Along the shore 
in most places, and extending along the banks of the creeks 
inland, is a belt of forest, varying in width from a hundred 
yards to half a mile, containing a few palms and lofty trees, 
and abundance of bamboos and climbers, rendering it almost 
impassable. The whole of the interior is campo, or open 
plain, covered with a coarse herbage, and in places sprinkled 
with round-headed palms, and with low branching trees bearing 
a profusion of yellow flowers. Scattered about, at intervals of 


a few miles, are clumps of trees and bushes, some very small, 
but others sufficiently extensive to form little forests. These 
are generally known as " ilhas," or islands, and many of them 
have separate names, as, " Ilha do Sao Pedro," " Ilha dos 
Urubus." In the wet season a great part of the island appears 
to be flooded, and dead crabs and fresh-water shells are found 
a long way inland : these groves are then probably real islands, 
though not perceptibly above the general level. 

A phenomenon, which is seen on the banks of the Mississippi 
and most other rivers which overflow their banks, also occurs 
here. The land is highest near the water's edge, and gradually 
falls inland, caused by the heavier sediment being deposited 
during floods at the shortest distance, while the lighter matter 
only is carried inland, and spread over a larger area. The 
surface of the campos is very uneven for walking, being in 
little clumps or hillocks, so that it is equally tiresome and 
fatiguing to walk on their summits or between them. The 
stems of the palms were all covered with orchideous plants, 
but they had now generally neither leaves nor flowers, and 
seemed to be of very little variety of species. In the marshy 
places shrubby convolvuli are abundant, and in others are large 
beds of cassias and mimosas, while scattered among them are 
many delicate little flowers. 

Long-tailed, light-coloured cuckoos were continually flying 
about from tree to tree, uttering their peculiar note, not at all 
like that of our cuckoo, but more like the creaking of a rusty 
hinge, which the name given to them, Careni, is intended to 
resemble. Equally abundant are the black hornbill cuckoos, 
called Amis ; and on almost every tree may be seen sitting a 
hawk or buzzard, the variety of which is very great, as in a few 
weeks I obtained eight different kinds. Pretty paroquets, with 
white and orange bands on their wings, and others with an 
orange-coloured crown, were very plentiful, and it was amusing 
to watch the activity with which they climbed about over the 
trees, and how suddenly and simultaneously they flew away 
when alarmed. Their plumage is so near the colour of the 
foliage, that it is sometimes impossible to see them, though 
you may have watched a whole flock enter a tree, and can hear 
them twittering overhead, when, after gazing until your patience 
is exhausted, they will suddenly fly off with a scream of 

1848.] ME XI ANA. 63 

Then among the bushes there were flocks of the beautiful 
red-breasted oriole, Icterus militaris ; but they were unfortu- 
nately not in good plumage at the time of my visit. The 
common black vulture is generally to be seen sailing over- 
head, or seated on some dead tree ; ' and great Muscovy ducks 
fly past with a rushing sound, like some great aerial machine 
beating the air violently to support its ponderous body, and 
offering a striking contrast to the great wood-ibis, which sails 
along with noiseless wings in flocks of ten or a dozen. In the 
skirts of forest and in the larger " ilhas," black and spotted 
jaguars are often found, while pacas, cotias, tatus or armadillos, 
deer, and other small game are plentiful. 

The whole population of the island consists of about forty 
persons, of whom twenty are slaves, and the remainder free 
Indians and Negroes in the employ of the proprietors. These 
are all engaged in attending to the cattle and horses on the 
island, which vary in number, and were much more numerous 
three or four years ago ; the horses in particular having been 
almost exterminated by a disease which suddenly appeared 
among them. ..There were now about fifteen hundred head of 
cattle, besides a great number of wild ones, which keep in the 
remote parts of the island, and four hundred horses. The 
slaves and labourers are allowed farinha only ; but they can 
cultivate Indian corn and vegetables for themselves, and have 
powder and shot given them for hunting, so that they do not 
fare so badly. They also have tobacco allowed them, and 
most of them earn money by making baskets or other trifles, 
or by killing oncas, the skin being worth from five to ten 
shillings. Besides attending to the cattle and horses, they 
have to build houses and corrals, to hunt alligators for oil, and 
kill bats, which do great injury to the cattle by sucking their 
blood night after night. The bats live in holes in trees, where 
they are killed in considerable numbers, Senhor Leonardo 
informing me that they had destroyed about seven thousand 
during the last six months. Many hundreds of cattle are said 
to have been killed by them in a few years. 

The slaves appeared contented and happy, as slaves generally 
do. Every evening at sunset they came to bid good-night to 
Senhor Leonardo and myself, a similar salutation taking place 
when they first met us in the morning. If a negro goes out for 
the day to any distance, he bids adieu to all he may meet, as 


if he were parting from his dearest friends on the eve of a long 
journey ; contrasting strongly with the apathy of the Indian, 
who scarcely ever exhibits any feelings of regret on parting, or 
of pleasure on his return. In the evening they play and sing 
in their own houses : their instrument is a home-made guitar, 
from which they obtain three or four notes, which are repeated 
for hours with the most wearisome monotony. To this music 
they join an extempore song, generally relating to some events 
of the day ; and the doings of the " brancos," or white people, 
have often a considerable share in it. Many of them keep 
fowls and ducks, which they sell, to buy any little luxuries they 
may require, and they often go fishing to supply the house, 
when they have a share for themselves. 

Every Saturday evening they meet for Divine service, which 
is performed in a room fitted up as a chapel, with an altar 
gaily decorated with figures of the Virgin and Child, and 
several saints painted and gilt in a most brilliant manner. 
Some of these figures are the work of Senhor Leonardo, who 
is an excellent self-taught carver ; and when the candles are 
lit, and all is in order, the effect is equal to that of many village 
churches. Two of the oldest Negroes conduct the service, 
kneeling at the altar ; the rest kneel or stand about the room. 
What they chant is, I believe, part of the vesper service of the 
Roman Catholic Church, and all join in the responses with 
much fervour, though without understanding a word. Sunday 
is their own day, for working in their gardens, hunting, or 
idleness, as they choose; and in the evening they often 
assemble in the verandah to dance, and sometimes keep it 
up all night. 

While I was on the island a child of a few weeks old was to 
be baptized. This they consider a most important ceremony ; 
so the father and mother, with godfathers and godmothers, set 
out in a canoe for Chaves, on the island of Marajo, the nearest 
place where there is a priest. They were absent three days, 
and then returned with the news that the Padre was ill, and 
could not perform the ceremony ; so they were obliged to bring 
back the poor little unsanctifled creature, liable, according to 
their ideas, should it die, to eternal perdition. The same 
evening they sang for three hours to their usual music the 
whole history of their journey, judging from the portions which 
were here and there intelligible. 


They made every fact into a verse, which was several times 
repeated. Thus one would suddenly burst out, 

" The Padre was ill, and could not come, 
The Padre was ill, and could not come." 


" The Padre was ill, and could not come." 

Then for a time the music continued without the voices, while 
they were trying to find another fact to found a verse upon. 
At length some one continued the subject : 

" He told us to come the next day, 
To see if he was better." 


" He told us to come the next day, 
To see if he was better." 

And so on to the end of the history, which struck me as being 
probably very similar to the unwritten lays of the ancient bards, 
who could thus make well-known facts interesting by being 
sung to music in an appropriate and enthusiastic manner. In 
a warlike nation, what more would at first be necessary than to 
relate the bold deeds of the warriors, the discomfiture of the 
enemy, and the trophies of victory, in order to raise the enthu- 
siasm of the audience to the highest pitch ? Some of these 
would be handed down from generation to generation, the 
language improved, and when they came to be reduced to 
writing, rhyme would be added, and a regular poem constructed. 
Having now arrived at the height of the dry season, and the 
waters of the lake before mentioned being sufficiently low, the 
German steward informed me that he should make an excursion 
there to kill alligators, and I determined to accompany him. 
There are two ways to reach the place overland in nearly a 
direct line, or round to the other side of the island in a boat 
and up a stream, which can be ascended to within a few miles 
of the lake, with which indeed in the wet season it commu- 
nicates. The tide served for the boat to start about midnight, 
and I decided on going in it, as I thought I should thus see 
more of the island. The overseer was to go by land in the 
morning. Being roused up at midnight, I got into the canoe 
with three Negroes, and tried to compose myself for a nap as 
well as I could upon the baskets of farinha and salt with which 


it was loaded. It was a large clumsy canoe, and with a sail 
and the tide we went on pretty well ; but as morning dawned 
we got out rather far from land into the ocean-like river, and 
the swell beginning to be disagreeable, I arose from my uneven 
couch very qualmish and uncomfortable. 

However, about ten o'clock we reached the mouth of the 
igaripe, or small stream we were to ascend, and I was very glad 
to get into still water. We stayed for breakfast in a little clear 
space under a fine tree, and I enjoyed a cup of coffee and a 
little biscuit, while the men luxuriated on fish and farinha. 
We then proceeded up the stream, which was at its commence- 
ment about two hundred yards wide, but soon narrowed to fifty 
or eighty. I was much delighted with the beauty of the vege- 
tation, which surpassed anything I had seen before : at every 
bend of the stream some new object presented itself, now a 
huge cedar hanging over the water, or a great silk-cotton-tree 
standing like a giant above the rest of the forest. The graceful 
assai palms occurred continually, in clumps of various sizes, 
sometimes raising their stems a hundred feet into the air, or 
bending in graceful curves till they almost met from the opposite 
banks. The majestic muruti palm was also abundant, its 
straight and cylindrical stems like Grecian columns, and with 
its immense fan-shaped leaves and gigantic bunches of fruit, 
produced an imposing spectacle. Some of these bunches were 
larger than any I had before seen, being eight or ten feet in 
length, weighing probably two or three hundredweight : each 
consisted of several bushels of a large reticulated fruit. These 
palms were often clothed with creepers, which ran up to the 
summits, and there put forth their blossoms. Lower down, on 
the water's edge, were numerous flowering shrubs, often com- 
pletely covered with convolvuluses, passion-flowers, or bignonias. 
Every dead or half-rotten tree was clothed with parasites of 
singular forms or bearing beautiful flowers, while smaller palms, 
curiously-shaped stems, and twisting climbers, formed a back- 
ground in the interior of the forest. 

Nor were there wanting animated figures to complete the 
picture. Brilliant scarlet and yellow macaws flew continually 
overhead, while screaming parrots and paroquets were passing 
from tree to tree in search of food. Sometimes from a branch 
over the water were suspended the hanging nests of the black 
and yellow troupial (Cassicus icteronotus), into which those 


handsome birds were continually entering. The effect of the 
scene was much heightened by the river often curving to one 
side or the other, so as to bring to view a constant variety of 
objects. At every bend we would see before us a flock of the 
elegant white heron, seated on some dead tree overhanging the 
water ; but as soon as we came in sight of them, they would 
take flight, and on passing another bend we would find them 
again perched in front of us, and so on for a considerable dis- 
tance. On many of the flowering shrubs gay butterflies were 
settled, and sometimes on a muddy bank a young alligator 
would be seen comfortably reposing in the sun. 

We continued our journey thus for several hours, the men 
rowing vigorously for fear of the tide turning against us before 
we reached our destination : this, however, happened just as 
we entered a narrower part of the stream. The scenery was 
now much more gloomy ; the tall trees closed overhead so as 
to keep out every sunbeam. The palms twisted and bent in 
various contortions, so that we sometimes could hardly pass 
beneath, and sunken logs often lay across from bank to bank, 
compelling us to get out of the canoe, and use all our exertions 
to force it over. Our progress was therefore very slow, and 
the stream was every minute running stronger against us. 
Here was a building-place for various aquatic birds : the wood- 
ibis and numerous cranes and herons had their nests on the 
summits of the lofty trees over the water, while lower down 
was the station chosen by the boat-bill. There was a continual 
rustle and flapping of wings as these long-legged, clumsy birds 
flew about, startled at our approach ; and when I shot one 
of the large wood-ibises, the confusion was at its height. 
Numerous kingfishers were continually passing up and down, or 
darting from some dead stick into the water to seize their prey. 

After about two hours of very hard and disagreeable work, 
we reached the landing-place, where there was an old deserted 
cottage, and the overseer and several Negroes with horses were 
waiting to convey the provisions we had brought to the Lake. 
We immediately set oft on foot over an extensive plain, which 
was in places completely bare, and in others thinly clothed 
with low trees. There could not be a greater contrast than 
between the scene we had just left, and that which we now 
entered upon. The one was all luxuriance and verdure, the 
Other as brown and barren as could be, a dreary waste of 


marsh, now parched up by the burning sun, and covered with 
tufts of a wiry grass, with here and there rushes and prickly 
sensitive plants, and a few pretty little flowers occasionally 
growing up among them. The trees, which in some places 
were abundant, did not much diminish the general dreariness 
of the prospect, for many of the leaves had fallen off owing 
to the continued drought, and those that were left were brown 
and half-shrivelled. The ground was very disagreeable for 
walking, being composed of numerous little clumps and ridges, 
placed so closely together that you could neither step securely 
upon nor between them : they appeared to be caused by the 
rains and floods in the wet season washing away the earth 
from between the roots of the grass-tufts, the whole being 
afterwards hardened by the excessive heat of the sun, and the 
grass almost entirely burnt away. 

After walking over four or five miles of such ground, we 
arrived at the Lake just as it was getting dark. The only 
building there was a small shed without any walls, under 
which we hung our hammocks, while the Negroes used the 
neighbouring trees and bushes for the same purpose. A 
large fire was blazing, and round it were numerous wooden 
spits, containing pieces of fresh fish and alligator's tail for our 
supper. While it was getting ready, we went to look at some 
fish which had just been caught, and lay ready for salting and 
drying the next day : they were the pirarucii {Sudis gigas), a 
splendid species, five or six feet long, with large scales of more 
than an inch in diameter, and beautifully marked and spotted 
with red. The Lake contains great quantities of them, and 
they are salted and dried for the Para market. It is a very 
fine-flavoured fish, the belly in particular being so fat and rich 
that it cannot be cured, and is therefore generally eaten fresh. 
This, with farinha and some coffee, made us an excellent 
supper, and the alligator's tail, which I now tasted for the first ' 
time, was by no means to be despised. We soon turned into 
our hammocks, and slept soundly after the fatigue of the day. 
Jaguars were abundant, and had carried off some fish a night 
or two before ; the alligators too were plunging and snorting 
within twenty yards of us : but we did not suffer such trifles 
to disturb our slumbers. 

Before daybreak I had my gun upon my shoulder, eager 
to make an attack upon the ducks and other aquatic birds 

1848.] ALLIGATORS. 69 

which swarmed about the lake. I soon found plenty of them, 
and, my gun being loaded with small shot, I killed seven or 
eight at the first fire. They were very pretty little birds, with 
metallic-green and white wings, and besides forming good 
specimens, provided us with an excellent breakfast. After the 
first discharge, however, they became remarkably shy, so I went 
after the roseate spoonbills, white herons, and long-legged 
plovers, which I saw on the other side : they also seemed to 
have taken warning by the fate of their companions, for I 
could not get near enough for a shot, as there was no means 
of concealing my approach. 

What is called the Lake is a long, winding piece of water, 
from thirty to fifty yards wide and of little depth. It is 
bordered with aquatic plants and shrubs, and in some parts 
is thickly covered with floating grass and duckweed. It is 
inhabited by immense numbers of the fish already mentioned, 
and alligators, which are so thick that there is scarcely any 
place where you may not stir one up. There are also great 
quantities of very small fish about two inches long, which I 
suppose serve as food for the larger ones, which in their turn 
are probably sometimes devoured by the alligators ; though 
it appears almost a mystery how so many large animals can 
find a subsistence, crowded together in such a small space. 

After breakfast the overseer commenced the alligator-hunt. 
A number of Negroes went into the water with long poles, 
driving the animals to the side, where others awaited them 
with harpoons and lassos. 

Sometimes the lasso was at once thrown over their heads, 
or, if first harpooned, a lasso was then secured to them, either 
over the head or the tail ; and they were easily dragged to the 
shore by the united force of ten or twelve men. Another 
lasso was fixed, if necessary, so as to fasten them at both ends, 
and on being pulled out of the water a Negro cautiously 
approached with an axe, and cut a deep gash across the root 
of the tail, rendering that formidable weapon useless ; another 
blow across the neck disabled the head, and the animal was 
then left, and pursuit of another commenced, which was speedily 
reduced to the same condition. Sometimes the cord would 
break, or the harpoon get loose, and the Negroes had often 
to wade into the water among the ferocious animals m a very 
hazardous manner. They were from ten to eighteen feet long, 


sometimes even twenty, with enormous mis-shapen heads, and 
fearful rows of long sharp teeth. When a number were out 
on the land, dead or dying, they were cut open, and the fat 
which accumulates in considerable quantities about the intes- 
tines was taken out, and made up into packets in the skins 
of the smaller ones, taken off for the purpose. There is 
another smaller kind, here called Jacare-tinga, which is the 
one eaten, the flesh being more delicate than in the larger 
species. After killing twelve or fifteen, the overseer and his 
party went off to another lake at a short distance, where the 
alligators were more plentiful, and by night had killed near 
fifty. The next day they killed twenty or thirty more, and got 
out the fat from the others. 

I amused myself very well with my gun, creeping among the 
long grass, to get a shot at the shy aquatic birds, and some- 
times wandering about the campo, where a woodpecker or a 
macaw rewarded my perseverance. I was much pleased when 
I first brought down a splendid blue and yellow macaw, but 
it gave me some hours of hard work to skin and prepare it, for 
the head is so fleshy and muscular, that it is no trifling matter 
to clean it thoroughly. The great tuyuyu (Myderia Americana) 
was often seen stalking about ; but, with every precaution, I 
could not get within gunshot of it. The large and small white 
herons were abundant, as well as black and grey ibises, boat- 
bills, blue storks, and ducks of several species ; there were also 
many black and yellow orioles, and a glossy starling, of all of 
which I procured specimens. 

I had an opportunity of seeing the manner of curing fish 
practised here. They are partially skinned, and a large piece 
of meat cut out from each side, leaving the backbone with the 
head and skin attached. Each piece of meat is* then cut 
lengthways, so as to unfold into a large flat slab, which is then 
slightly sprinkled with salt and laid upon a board. Other 
slices are laid on this, and, when the salt has penetrated 
sufficiently, they are hung upon poles or laid upon the ground 
in the sun to dry, which does not occupy more than two or 
three days. They are then packed up in bundles of about a 
hundred pounds each, and are ready for market. The bones 
and heads furnish a fine feast for the vultures, and sometimes 
a jaguar will carry them away in the night, but he prefers an 
entire fish if one is left in his way. 


Immediately on the fish being cut up, every part of it is 
blackened by thousand of flies, which keep up a continual hum 
the whole day. In fact, the sound of animal life never ceases. 
Directly after sunset, the herons, bitterns, and cranes begin 
their discordant cries, and the boat-bills and frogs set up a 
dismal croaking. The note of one frog deserves a better 
name : it is an agreeable whistle, and, could it be brought into 
civilised society, would doubtless have as many admirers as 
the singing mouse, or the still more marvellous whistling oyster 
described by Punch. All night long, the alligators and fish 
keep up a continual plunging ; but, with the grey of morning, 
commence the most extraordinary noises. All of a sudden ten 
thousand white-winged paroquets begin their morning song 
with such a confusion of piercing shrieks as it is quite im- 
possible to describe : a hundred knife-grinders at full work 
would give but a faint idea of it. A little later, and another 
noise is heard : the flies, which had weighed down every blade 
of grass, now wake up, and, with a sounding hum, commence 
their attack upon the fish : every piece that has lain a few 
hours upon the ground has deposited around it masses of their 
eggs as large as walnuts. In fact, the abundance of every kind 
of animal life crowded into a small space was here very striking, 
compared with the sparing manner in which it is scattered in 
the virgin forests. It seems to force us to the conclusion, that 
the luxuriance of tropical vegetation is not favourable to the 
production and support of animal life. The plains are always 
more thickly peopled than the forest ; and a temperate zone, 
as has been pointed out by Mr. Darwin, seems better adapted 
to the support of large land-animals than the tropics. 

In this lake the overseer informed me he had killed as many 
as a hundred alligators in a few days, whereas in the Amazon 
or Para rivers it would be difficult to procure as many in a 
year. Geologists, judging from the number of large reptiles, 
the remains of which are found in considerable quantities in 
certain strata, tell us of a time when the whole world was 
peopled by such animals, before a sufficient quantity of dry 
land had been formed to support land quadrupeds. But, as it 
is evident that the remains of these alligators would be found 
accumulated together should any revolution of the earth cause 
their death, it would appear that such descriptions are founded 
upon insufficient data, and that considerable portions of the 


earth might have been as much elevated as they are at present, 
notwithstanding the numerous remains of aquatic reptiles, 
which would seem to indicate a great extent of shallow water 
for their abode. 

The alligator fat and a quantity of fish were now ready, so 
we prepared to return home. I determined this time to walk 
overland, so as to see the character of the interior of the 
island. I returned with the two Negroes to the ruined cottage 
before mentioned, so as to be ready to start the next morning 
for a walk of some ten or twelve miles across the campo. On 
our way to the hut we passed over a part which was burning, 
and saw the curious phenomenon of the fire proceeding in 
two opposite directions at once. The wind carried the fire 
rapidly in a westerly direction, while, at the same time, 
by causing the tall grass to bend over into the flames, they 
progressed, though at a slower rate, towards the east. The 
campos are set on fire purposely every summer, as the coarse 
grass being burnt down, leaves room for a fine crop to spring 
up afresh with the first rains. Near the hut I shot a large 
grey heron, which made us a very good supper ; and we then 
hung up our hammocks for the night in the little dirty ruined 
hut, from which a short time before a jaguar had carried away 
a large bundle of fish. 

In the morning the canoe was loaded to return, and I 
proceeded along a faint track homewards. The scene was 
generally very desolate and barren. Sometimes there was 
not a blade of grass for miles. Then would come a wide bed 
of gigantic rushes, which extends across the island nearly from 
one side to the other. In other places were large beds of 
prickly mimosas, and, at intervals, considerable tracts covered 
with leafless trees about which numbers of woodpeckers were 
busily at work. Hawks and vultures were also seen, and the 
great red-billed toucan {Rha?nphastos Toco) flew by in an undu- 
lating course in parties of three or four. It was cloudy, and 
there was a good deal of wind ; but at this time of the year no 
rain ever falls here, so I did not hurry myself on that account, 
and, early in the afternoon, reached the house, rather tired, 
but much interested with my walk. I forgot to mention that 
in the evening, after the alligator-hunt, the Negroes sang 
several hymns, as a thanksgiving for having escaped their jaws. 

The next day all were busily employed boiling the fat into oil, 

i8 4 8.1 RETURN FROM THE LAKE. 73 

which supplies the lamps on all Mr. C.'s estates. It has rather 
a disagreeable smell, but not worse than train-oil. I now went 
out every day with my gun about the campo, or to the clumps 
of wood called islands, on the banks of the small streams. 
The principal birds I procured were toucans, parrots, hawks, 
and buzzards, the red-headed manakin, and numerous small 
finches and fly-catchers. The mango-trees were loaded with 
ripe fruit, and attracted many small tanagers and paroquets. 
I now ate the mango for the first time, and soon got to like it 
very much. It is not generally eaten in Para except by the 
Negroes, who seem very fond of it, to judge by the certainty 
with which every fruit disappeared the moment it became 
ripe. There seems to be scarcely an animal that is not fond 
of it, cattle, sheep, pigs, ducks, and fowls, all rush to secure 
every fruit that falls. 

Soon after Christmas we had a few showers at intervals, and 
the grass began to grow more greenly a sign that the summer 
was nearly at an end. Some butterflies and moths now made 
their appearance, and the skirts of the forest were covered 
with passion-flowers, convolvuluses, and many other flowers. 
Bees and wasps also began to abound, and several aquatic birds 
I had not before seen made their appearance. In January, 
Mr. C. and his family and some visitors arrived to spend a few 
weeks on the island, and the time passed more pleasantly. 
Several of the Negroes were sent hunting, and wild ducks of 
various species, deer, armadillos, and fish, with beef and 
mutton, gave us plenty for our table. Several jaguars were 
killed, as Mr. C. pays about eight shillings each for their skins : 
one day we had some steaks at the table, and found the meat 
very white, and without any bad taste. 

It appears evident to me that the common idea of the 
food of an animal determining the quality of its meat is quite 
erroneous. Domestic poultry and pigs are the most unclean 
animals in their food, yet their flesh is very highly esteemed, 
while rats and squirrels, which eat only vegetable food, are in 
general disrepute. Carnivorous fish are not less delicate eating 
than herbivorous ones, and there appears no reason why some 
carnivorous animals should not furnish wholesome and palatable 
food. Venison, so highly esteemed at home, is here the most 
dry and tasteless meat that can be had, as it must be cooked 
within twelve hours after it is killed. 


A great deal more rain now fell, and small pools were 
formed in some parts of the campos. About these, plovers 
and other birds were to be seen wading, and a small flock of 
the elegant long-legged plover (Ilimantopus). After much 
difficulty I succeeded in killing three or four of them. The 
curious razor-bill was also often seen skimming over the water, 
and the great tuyuyu occasionally approached near the house, 
but always kept out of gunshot, and although I crawled 
along prostrate to get within reach of him, he always found me 
out in time for his own safety. 

As I was getting scarcely any insects here, and the birds 
were not very valuable, I determined to return to Para with 
Mr. C, who was going to pass a week at his other estate on 
the island of Marajo by the way. 

The journey across in Mr. C.'s schooner occupied but a few 
hours, and we then entered a river which leads up to the 
estate called Jungcal. On arriving we found a mud-walled 
house not quite finished, which was to be our abode while we 
. stayed. At the back of the house stretched out, as far as the eye 
could reach, a perfectly flat plain or campo, on which fed 
numerous herds of cattle. Round about were " corrals " fenced 
in for collecting the cattle, and huts for the " vaqueiros," or 
cowherds ; and along the banks of the river were patches of 
wood, and thickets of a great prickly bamboo. About the 
campo were numerous marshes and narrow streams or ditches, 
which contained many curious and pretty aquatic plants. 
Mosquitoes were plentiful, and annoyed us much in the 
evenings, when we wished to enjoy the cool air in the 

The Negroes and Mulattoes employed about the estate were 
mostly fine young men, and led a life of alternate idleness and 
excitement, which they seemed to enjoy very much. All their 
work is done on horseback, where they showed to great 
advantage, only wearing a pair of trousers and a cap with a 
tassel,, displaying the fine symmetry of their bodies. We were 
much amused by seeing them bring in the cattle, driving them 
into the corral, or using the lasso when one was to be 
slaughtered. For this purpose they generally get two lassos 
on the head or legs of the animal, the end of each of which is 
held by a horseman. The "matador" then goes up and 
hamstrings the poor animal with a cutlass. This quite disables 

1S49.] WILD CATTLE. 75 

him : in vain he tries to rise on his legs and run at his 
merciless assailants, till the cutlass is thrust into his neck and 
deep down into his chest. He is hardly dead when he is 
skinned and cut up, and the dogs and vultures rush to feast 
upon the pool of blood and entrails which mark the spot. 
The sight was a sickening one, and I did not care to witness 
it more than once. 

There were few birds or insects worth catching, and it was 
not the time of the year for the spoonbills and ibises, which 
have a building-place near, and arrive in immense numbers in 
the month of June. 

After spending about a week at Jungcal we embarked to 
return to Para. A cattle-canoe was to accompany us, and we 
were to take some of the animals on board our schooner. We 
started early in the morning, and in about an hour arrived at a 
corral on the river-side, where the cattle were. The boat was 
anchored about twenty yards from the shore, and a block and 
fall rigged to haul them up on deck. In the corral were 
twenty or thirty wild cattle, which had been kicking and plunging 
about till they had filled the place with mud knee-deep. 
Several men with lassos were trying to secure them, by 
throwing the loops over their horns. The cattle used all their 
endeavours to avoid being caught, by shaking their heads and 
throwing the cords off before they could be pulled tight. Each 
man kept his attention directed to one animal, following it 
about to every part of the corral. After a few attempts he 
generally succeeded in getting the loop fixed over the horns, 
and then half a dozen came to his assistance, to get the ox out 
of the corral into the water. This was done by some pulling 
at the lassos, while others poked and beat the animal with long 
poles, which would so irritate it that it would roll itself 
on the ground and rush at the men with all its force. At this 
they did not seem to be much alarmed, but jumped on one 
side or sprang on to the rails of the corral, and then imme- 
diately returned to the attack. At length the creature would 
be either pulled or driven into the water, and the end of the 
rope being quickly thrown on board the canoe, the ox was 
towed up to the vessel's side. A strong rope was then noosed 
over its horns, by which it was lifted into the air, struggling as 
helplessly as a kitten held by the skin of its neck ; it was then 
lowered into the hold, where, after a little disturbance, it soon 

76 TRAVELS ON THE AMAZON. [March, 1849. 

became quiet. One after another were put on board in this 
manner, each offering something interesting, arising from the 
fury of the animal or the great skill and coolness of the 
vaqueiros. Once or twice the lasso, which is made of twisted 
hide, was thrown short of the canoe, and I then admired the 
rapidity with which an Indian plunged head foremost after it, 
not stopping even to take the cap from his head ; he then gave 
the rope to those on board, and mounting on the back of the 
swimming ox, rode in triumph to the canoe. 

We did not get them all on board without an accident. The 
principal herdsman, a strong and active Mulatto, was in the 
corral, driving the cattle to one end of it, when a furious ox 
rushed at him, and with the rapidity of lightning he was 
stretched, apparently dead, upon the ground. The other men 
immediately carried him out, and Mr. and Mrs. C. went on 
shore to attend to him. In about half an hour he revived a 
little. He appeared to have been struck in the chest by the 
animal's head, the horns not having injured him. In a very 
short time he was in the corral again, as if nothing had hap- 
pened, and when all were embarked he came on board and 
made a hearty dinner, his appetite not having suffered by the 

We then proceeded on our voyage, and as soon as we got 
into the Amazon I again experienced the uncomfortable sensa- 
tion of sea-sickness, though in fresh-water. The next night we 
had a very strong wind, which split our mainsail all to pieces. 
The following day we landed at a little island called Ilha das 
Frechas (the Isle of Arrows), on account of the quantity of a 
peculiar kind of reed, used by the Indians for making their 
arrows, which grows there. We stayed nearly the whole day, 
dining under the shade of the trees, and roaming about, picking 
a wild fruit, like a small plum, which grew there in abundance ; 
there were also many curious fruits and handsome flowers 
which attracted our attention. Some years ago the island is 
said to have swarmed with wild hogs, but they are now nearly 
exterminated. The next day we passed the eastern point of 
the island of Marajo, where there is a sudden change from the 
waters of the Amazon to those of the Para river, the former 
being yellow and fresh, the latter green and salt : they mix but 
little at the junction, so that we passed in a moment from one 
kind of water to the other. In two days more we reached Para. 



Natterer's Hunter, Luiz Birds and Insects Prepare for a Journey 
First Sight of the Piroroco St. Domingo Senhor Calistro Slaves 
and Slavery Anecdote Cane-field Journey into the Forest 
Game Explanation of the Piroroco Return to Para Bell-birds 
and Yellow Parrots. 

I had written to Mr. Miller to get me a small house at Nazare, 
and I now at once moved into it, and set regularly to work in 
the forest, as much as the showery and changeable weather 
would allow me. An old Portuguese, who kept a kind of 
tavern next door, supplied my meals, and I was thus enabled 
to do without a servant. The boys in the neighbourhood soon 
got to know of my arrival, and that I was a purchaser of all 
kinds of " bichos." Snakes were now rather abundant, and 
almost every day I had some brought me, which I preserved 
in spirits. 

As insects were not very plentiful at this season, I wished to 
get a hunter to shoot birds for me, and came to an arrange- 
ment with a Negro named Luiz, who had had much experience. 
He had been with Dr. Natterer during the whole of his 
seventeen years' residence in Brazil, having been purchased by 
him in Rio de Janeiro when a boy ; and when the doctor left 
Para, in 1835, ne S ave nmi ms freedom. His whole occupation 
while with Dr. Natterer was shooting and assisting to skin birds 
and animals. He had now a little land, and had saved enough 
to purchase a couple of slaves himself, a degree of providence 
that the less careful Indian seldom attains to. He is a native 
of Congo, and a very tall and handsome man. I agreed to 
give him a milrei (2s. $d.) a day and his living. He used to 
amuse me much by his accounts of his travels with the doctor, 
as he always called Natterer. He said he treated him very 


well, and gave him a small present whenever he brought a new 

Luiz was an excellent hunter. He would wander in the 
woods from morning to night, going a great distance, and 
generally bringing home some handsome bird. He soon got 
me several fine cardinal chatterers, red-breasted trogons, 
toucans, etc. He knew the haunts and habits of almost every 
bird, and could imitate their several notes so as to call them to 

In this showery weather the pretty little esmeralda butterfly 
(ILctera Es?neralda) seemed to delight, for almost every wet 
day I got one or two specimens in a certain narrow gloomy 
path in the forest, though I never found but one in any other 
place. Once or twice I walked over to tne rice-mills, to see 
my friend Mr. Leavens, and get some of the curious insects 
which were seldom met with near the city. Several young 
men in Para were now making collections, and it is a proof of 
the immense abundance and luxuriance of insect life in this 
country, that in every collection, however small, I almost 
always saw something new to me. 

Having heard much of the " Pirordco," or bore, that occurs 
in the Guama River at spring-tides, I determined to take a 
little trip in order to see it, and make some variation from my 
rather monotonous life at Para. I wished to go in a canoe of 
my own, so as to be able to stop where and when I liked, and 
I also thought it would be useful afterwards in ascending the 
Amazon. I therefore agreed to purchase one that I thought 
would suit me, of a Frenchman in Para, and having paid part 
of the purchase-money, got it fitted up and laid in a stock of 
requisites for the voyage. I took a barrel and a quantity of 
spirits for preserving fish, and everything necessary for collecting 
and preparing birds and insects. As the canoe was small, I 
did not want many men, for whom there would not indeed 
have been room, so determined to manage with only a pilot, 
and one man or boy besides Luiz. 

I soon found a boy who lived near, and had been accustomed 
to bring me insects. To all appearance he was an Indian, but 
his mother had Negro blood in her, and was a slave, so her 
son of course shared her fate. I had, therefore, to hire him of 
his master, an officer, and agreed for three milreis (about seven 
shillings) a month, People said that the boy's master was hi$ 


father, which, as he certainly resembled him, might have been 
the case. He generally had a large chain round his body 
and leg as a punishment, and to prevent his running away ; 
he wore it concealed under his trousers, and it clanked very 
disagreeably at every step he took. Of course this was taken 
off when he was delivered over to me, and he promised to be 
very faithful and industrious if I took him with me. I also 
agreed with a lame Spaniard to go as pilot, because he said he 
knew the river, and some little experience is required at the 
time of the Pirordco. He begged for a few milreis beforehand 
to purchase some clothes ; and when I wanted him to assist 
me in loading the canoe he was feasting on biscuit and cheese, 
with oil, vinegar, and garlic, washing it down so plentifully 
with caxaga that he was quite intoxicated, so I was obliged to 
wait till the next day, when, having spent all his money and 
got a little sober, he was very quiet and submissive. 

At length, all being ready, we started, rowing along quietly 
with the flood-tide, as there was no wind, and at night, when 
the tide turned, anchoring a few miles up the Guama. This is 
a fine stream, about half a mile wide in the lower part. A 
short distance up, the banks are rather undulating, with many 
pretty sitios. During ebb-tide we managed generally to anchor 
near some house or cottage, where we could get on shore and 
make a fire under a tree to cook our dinner or supper. Luiz 
would then take his gun and I my insect-net, and start off into 
the forest to make the most of our time till the tide turned 
again, when we would continue our voyage, and I generally had 
occupation skinning birds or setting out insects till the evening. 
About thirty miles above Para the Pirordco commences. 
There was formerly an island in the river at this point, but it is 
said to have been completely washed away by the continual 
action of the bore, which, after passing this place, we rather 
expected to see, now being the time of the highest tides, 
though at this season (May) they are not geneially high enough 
to produce it with any great force. It came, however, with a 
sudden rush, a wave travelling rapidly up the stream, and 
breaking in foam all along the shore and on the shallows. It 
lifted our canoe just as a great rolling ocean-wave would do, 
but, being deep water, did no harm, and was past in an instant, 
the tide then continuing to flow up with very great velocity. 
The highest tide was now past, so at the next we had no wave, 


but the flood began running up, instantaneously, and not 
gradually, as is generally the case. 

The next day we arrived at Sao Domingo, a little village at 
the junction of the Guama and Capim rivers. I had a letter 
of introduction to a Brazilian trader residing here, on present- 
ing which he placed his house at my disposal. I took him at 
his word, and said I should stay a few days. Luiz went into 
the woods every day, generally bringing home some birds, and 
I wandered about in search of insects, which I did not find 
very abundant, the dry season having scarcely begun ; there 
were, however, plenty of pleasant paths about the woods to the 
rice and mandiocca-fields, and abundance of oranges and other 
fruit. Our food was principally fish from the river and some 
jerked beef, with beans and rice. The house was little better 
than a mud hovel, with a bench, a rickety table, and a few 
hammocks for furniture ; but in this country the people away 
from the towns never think of expending any great labour or 
going to any expense to make a comfortable house. 

After staying nearly a week, with not much success in my 
collections, I proceeded up the west branch of the river, called 
the Capim. My canoe was a very unsteady and top-heavy 
one, and soon after leaving the village a sudden squall nearly 
upset us, the water pouring in over the side, and it was with 
some difficulty we got the sail down and secured the boat to 
a bush on the river's bank till the storm had passed over. We 
went pleasantly along for two or three days, the country being 
prettily diversified with cane-fields, rice-grounds, and houses 
built by the early Portuguese settlers, with elegant little chapels 
attached, and cottages for the Negroes and Indians around, all 
much superior in appearance and taste to anything erected 
now. At length we reached Sao Joze, the estate of Senhor 
Calistro, to whom I brought letters of introduction. He re- 
ceived me very kindly, and on my telling him the purpose of 
my visit he invited me to stay with him as long as I liked, and 
promised to do all he could to assist me. He was a stout, 
good-humoured looking man, of not much more than thirty. 
He had recently built a rice-mill and warehouses, one of the 
best modern buildings I had seen in the country. It was 
entirely of stone ; the mill was approached by arches in the 
centre, and the warehouses, offices, and dwelling apartments 
were at the sides. There was a gallery or verandah on the 


first floor connecting the two ends of the building, and looking 
down upon the mill, with its great water-wheel in the centre, 
and out through the windows on to the river, and a handsome 
stone quay which ran along the whole front of the building. 
It was all substantially constructed, and had cost him several 
thousand pounds. 

He had about fifty slaves of all ages, and about as many 
Indians, employed in his cane- and rice-fields, and in the mills, 
and on board his canoes. He made sugar and caxaga, but 
most of the latter as it paid best. Every kind of work was 
done on the premises : he had shoemakers, tailors, carpenters, 
smiths, boat-builders, and masons, either slaves or Indians, 
some of whom could make good locks for doors and boxes, 
and tin and copper articles of all kinds. He told me that by 
having slaves and Indians working together he was enabled to 
get more work out of the latter than by any other system. 
Indians will not submit to strict rules when working by them- 
selves, but when with slaves, who have regular hours to com- 
mence and leave off work, and stated tasks to perform, they 
submit to the same regulations and cheerfully do the same 
work. Every evening at sunset all the workpeople come up to 
Senhor Calistro to say good-night or ask his blessing. He was 
seated in an easy chair in the verandah, and each passed by 
with a salutation suited to his age or station. The Indians 
would generally be content with " Boa noite " (good-night) ; 
the younger ones, and most of the women and children, both 
Indians and slaves, would hold out their hand, saying, " Sua 
bencao " (your blessing), to which he would reply, "Deos te 
bencoe " (God bless you), making at the same time the sign 
of the Cross. Others and these were mostly the old Negroes 
would gravely repeat, " Louvado seja o nome do Senhor 
Jesu Christo " (blessed be the name of the Lord Jesus 
Christ), to which he would reply, with equal gravity, " Para 
sempre " (for ever). 

Children of all classes never meet their parents in the 
morning or leave them at night without in the same manner 
asking their blessing, and they do the same invariably of 
every stranger who enters the house. In fact, it is the common 
salutation of children and inferiors, and has a very pleasing 

The slaves here were treated remarkably well. Senhor 



Calistro assured me he buys slaves, but never sells any, except 
as the last punishment for incorrigibly bad conduct. They 
have holidays on all the principal saints' days and festivals, 
which are pretty often, and on these occasions an ox is killed 
for them, and a quantity of rum given, to make themselves 
merry. Every evening, as they come round, they prefer their 
several petitions : one wants a little coffee and sugar for his 
wife, who is unwell ; another requires a new pair of trousers or 
a shirt ; a third is going with a canoe to Para, and asks for 
a milrei to buy something. These requests are invariably 
granted, and Senhor Calistro told me that he never had cause 
for refusal, because the slaves never begged for anything un- 
reasonable, nor asked favours when from bad conduct they did 
not deserve them. In fact, all seemed to regard him in quite 
a patriarchal view, at the same time he was not to be 
trifled with, and was pretty severe against absolute idleness. 
When picking rice, all had a regular quantity to bring in, and 
any who were considerably deficient several times, from idleness 
alone, were punished with a moderate flogging. He told me 
of one Negro he had bought, who was incorrigibly lazy, though 
quite strong and healthy. The first day he was set a moderate 
task, and did not near complete it, and received a moderate 
flogging. The next day he was set a much larger task, with 
the promise of a severe flogging if he did not get through it : 
he failed, saying it was quite beyond his ability, and received 
the flogging. The third day he was set a still larger amount 
of work, with the promise of a much severer flogging if he 
failed to finish it ; and so, finding that the two former promises 
had been strictly kept, and that he was likely to gain nothing 
by carrying out his plan any longer, he completed the work 
with ease, and had ever since done the same quantity, which 
was after all only what every good workman did on the estate. 
Every Sunday morning and evening, though they do not work, 
they are required to appear before their master, unless they 
have special leave to be absent : this, Senhor Calistro told me, 
was to prevent their going to a great distance to other planta- 
tions to steal, as, if they could go off after work on Saturday 
evening, and not return till Monday morning, they might go 
to such a distance to commit robbery as to be quite free from 

In fact, Senhor Calistro attends to his slaves just as he 

1S49.] SLAVERY. S3 

would to a large family of children. He gives them amuse- 
ment, relaxation, and punishment in the same way, and takes 
the same precautions to keep them out of mischief. The 
consequence is, they are perhaps as happy as children * they 
have no care and no wants, they are provided for in sickness 
and old age, their children are never separated from them, nor 
are husbands separated from their wives, except under such 
circumstances as would render them liable to the same separa- 
tion, were they free, by the laws of the country. Here, then, 
slavery is perhaps seen under its most favourable aspect, and, in 
a mere physical point of view, the slave may be said to be better 
off than many a freeman. This, however, is merely one parti- 
cular case, it is by no means a necessary consequence of 
slavery, and from what we know of human nature, can be but 
a rare occurrence. 

But looking at it in this, its most favourable light, can we 
say that slavery is good or justifiable ? Can it be right to 
keep a number of our fellow-creatures in a state of adult 
infancy, of unthinking childhood? It is the. responsibility 
and self-dependence of manhood that calls forth the highest 
powers and energies of our race. It is the struggle for existence, 
the " battle of life," which exercises the moral faculties and 
calls forth the latent sparks of genius. The hope of gain, the 
love of power, the desire of fame and approbation, excite to 
noble deeds, and call into action all those faculties which are 
the distinctive attributes of man. 

Childhood is the animal part of man's existence, manhood 
the intellectual; and when the weakness and imbecility of 
childhood remain, without its simplicity and pureness, its grace 
and beauty, how degrading is the spectacle ! And this is the 
state of the slave when slavery is the best that it can be. He 
has no care of providing food for his family, no provision to 
make for old age. He has nothing to incite him to labour but 
the fear of punishment, no hope of bettering his condition, no 
future to look forward to of a brighter aspect. Everything 
he receives is a favour ; he has no rights, what can he know 
therefore of duties ? Every desire beyond the narrow circle 
of his daily labours is shut out from his acquisition. He has 
no intellectual pleasures, and, could he have education and 
taste them, they would assuredly embitter his life; for what 
hope of increased knowledge, what chance of any further 


acquaintance with the wonders of nature or the triumphs of 
art, than the mere hearing of them, can exist for one who is 
the property of another, and can never hope for the liberty 
of working for his own living in the manner that may be most 
agreeable to him ? 

But such views as these are of course too refined for a 
Brazilian slaveholder, who can see nothing beyond the physical 
wants of the slave. And as the teetotalers have declared that 
the example of the moderate drinker is more pernicious than 
that of the drunkard, so may the philanthropist consider that 
a good and kind slave-master does an injury to the cause of 
freedom, by rendering people generally unable to perceive the 
false principles inherent in the system, and which, whenever 
they find a suitable soil in the bad passions of man, are ready 
to spring up and produce effects so vile and degrading as to 
make honest men blush for disgraced human nature. 

Senhor C. was as kind and good-tempered a man as I have 
ever met with. I had but to mention anything I should like, 
and, if it was in his power, it was immediately got for me. 
He altered his dinner-hour to suit my excursions in the forest, 
and made every arrangement he could for my accommodation. 
A Jewish gentleman called when I was there : he was going 
up the river to collect some debts, and brought a letter for 
Senhor C. He stayed with us some days, and, as he would 
not eat any meat, because it had not been killed according to 
the rules of his religion, nor any fish that had not scales, which 
include some of the best these rivers produce, he hardly found 
anything at table the first day that he could partake of. Every 
day afterwards, however, while he was with us, there was a 
variety of scaled fish provided, boiled and roasted, stewed and 
fried, with eggs, rice, and vegetables in abundance, so that he 
could always make an excellent meal. Senhor C. was much 
amused at his scruples, though perfectly polite about them, 
and delighted to ask him about the rites of his religion, and 
me about mine, and would then tell us the Catholic doctrine 
on the same questions. He related to us many anecdotes, of 
which the following is a specimen, serving to illustrate the 
credulity of the Negroes. "There was a Negro," said he, 
"who had a pretty wife, to whom another Negro was rather 
attentive when he had the chance. One day the husband 
went out to hunt, and the other party thought it a good 


opportunity to pay a visit to the lady. The husband, however, 
returned rather unexpectedly, and the visitor climbed up on 
the rafters to be out of sight among the old boards and baskets 
that were stowed away there. The husband put his gun by 
in a corner, and called to his wife to get his supper, and then 
sat down in his hammock. Casting his eyes up to the rafters, 
he saw a leg protruding from among the baskets, and, thinking 
it something supernatural, crossed himself, and said, 'Lord, 
deliver us from the legs appearing overhead ! ' The other, 
hearing this, attempted to draw up his legs out of sight, but, 
losing his balance, came down suddenly on the floor in front 
of the astonished husband, who, half frightened, asked, * Where 
do you come from ? ' 'I have just come from heaven,' said 
the other, ' and have brought you news of your little daughter 
Maria.' ' Oh ! ' wife, wife ! come and see a man who has 
brought us news of our little daughter Maria ; ' then, turning 
to the visitor, continued, 'And what was my little daughter 
doing when you left ? ' ' Oh ! she was sitting at the feet of 
the Virgin, with a golden crown on her head, and smoking a 
golden pipe a yard long.' ' And did she not send any message 
to us ? ' ' Oh yes, she sent many remembrances, and begged 
you to send her two pounds of your tobacco from the little 
rhossa, they have not got any half so good up there.' ' Oh ! 
wife, wife ! bring two pounds of our tobacco from the little 
rhossa, for our daughter Maria is in heaven, and she says they 
have not any half so good up there.' So the tobacco was 
brought, and the visitor was departing, when he was asked, 
{ Are there many white men up there ? ' ' Very few,' he 
replied ; 'they are all down below with the diabo? 'I thought 
so,' the other replied, apparently quite satisfied ; ' good-night ! ' " 
Senhor Calistro had a beautiful canoe made of a single 
piece of wood, without a nail, the benches being all notched 
in. He often went in it to Para, near two hundred miles, and, 
with twelve good Indians to paddle, and plenty of caxaca, 
reached the city, without stopping, in twenty-four hours. We 
sometimes went out to inspect the cane-fields in this canoe, 
with eight little Negro and Indian boys to paddle, who were 
always ready for such service. I then took my gun and net, 
and shot some birds or caught any insects that we met with, 
while Senhor Calistro would send the boys to climb after any 
handsome flowers I admired, or to gather the fruit of the 


passion-flowers, which hung like golden apples in the thickets 
on the banks. His cane-field this year was a mile and a half 
long and a quarter of a mile wide, and very luxuriant ; across it 
were eight roads, all planted on each side with bananas and 
pine-apples. He informed me that when the fruit was in full 
season all the slaves and Indians had as much as they liked to 
take, and could never finish them all ; but, said he, "It is not 
much trouble planting them when setting the cane-field, and I 
always do it, for I like to have plenty." It was altogether a 
noble sight, a sample of the over-flowing abundance produced 
by a fertile soil and a tropical sun. Having mentioned that I 
much wished to get a collection of fish to preserve in spirits, he 
set several Indians to work stopping up igaripes to poison the 
water, and others to fish at night with line and bow and arrow ; 
all that they procured being brought to me to select from, and 
the rest sent to the kitchen. The best way of catching a variety 
was, however, with a large drag-net fifty or sixty yards long. YYe 
went out one day in two canoes, and with about twenty Negroes 
and Indians, who swam with the net in the water, making a 
circuit, and then drew it out on to a beach. We had not very 
good fortune, but soon filled two half-bushel baskets w r ith a great 
variety of fish, large and small, from which I selected a number 
of species to increase my collection. 

Senhor Calistro was now going to send several Indian 
hunters up a small stream into the deep forest to hunt for him, 
and salt and dry game, and bring home live tortoises, of which 
there are great numbers in the forest. I particularly w r anted a 
large and handsome species of Tina??ius, or Brazilian partridge, 
which is found in these forests, but which I have not yet met 
with since I saw one being plucked for supper on the Tocantins ; 
I was also anxious to procure the hyacinthine macaw : so he 
kindly offered to let me go with them, and to lend me a small 
canoe and another Indian, to return when I liked, as they were 
going to stay two or three months. All the Indians took was 
farinha and salt, with powder and shot ; but my kind host 
loaded my canoe with fowls, roast meat, eggs, plantains, pine- 
apples, and cocoa-nuts, so that I went w r ell provided. It was 
about half-a-day's journey further up the river, to the mouth of 
the narrow stream or igaripe we were to enter ; after going up 
which a short distance we stayed at the cottage of some acquaint- 
ances of our men for the night. The next morning early we 

1 849.] THE FOREST. 87 

proceeded on our journey, and soon passed the last house, and 
entered upon the wild, unbroken and uninhabited virgin forest. 
The stream was very narrow and very winding, running with 
great rapidity round the bends, and often much obstructed by 
bushes and fallen trees. The branches almost met overhead, 
and it was as dark and gloomy and silent as can be imagined. 
In these sombre shades a flower was scarcely ever to be found. 
A few of the large blue butterflies (Morphos) were occasionally 
seen flitting over the water or seated upon a leaf on the banks, 
and numerous green-backed kingfishers darted along before us. 
Early in the afternoon we found a little cleared place where 
hunters were accustomed to stay, and here we hung up our 
hammocks, lit our fire, and prepared to pass the night. After 
an excellent supper and some coffee, I lay down in my 
hammock, gazing up through the leafy canopy overhead, to the 
skies spangled with brightly shining stars, from which the fire- 
flies, flitting among the foliage, could often hardly be distin- 
guished. They were a species of Pyropkorus, larger than any 
I had seen in Para. They seemed attracted by the fire, to 
which they came in numbers ; by moving one over the lines 
of a newspaper I was enabled easily to read it. The Indians 
amused themselves by recounting their hunting adventures, 
their escapes from jaguars and serpents, or of their being lost 
in the forest. One told how he had been lost for ten days, and 
all that time had eaten nothing, for he had no farinha, and 
though he could have killed game he would not eat it alone, 
and seemed quite surprised that I should think him capable 
of such an action, though I should certainly have imagined a 
week's fast would have overcome any scruples of that sort. 

The next day the Indians went hunting, proposing to return 
early in the afternoon to proceed on, and I searched the woods 
after insects ; but in these gloomy forests, and without any 
paths along which I could walk with confidence, I met with 
little success. In the afternoon some of them returned with 
two trumpeters (Psophia viridis) and a monkey, which I skinned ; 
but as one Indian did not arrive till late, we could not continue 
our voyage till the next day. This night we were not so 
fortunate as the last, for just about dusk it began to rain, and 
our canoes were so small and so loaded with articles that must 
be kept dry, that we had little chance of making ourselves 
comfortable in them. I managed to crowd in somehow, terribly 


cramped, hoping the shower would soon pass over ; but as it 
did not, and we had turned in without our suppers, I began to 
feel very hungry. It was pitch-dark, but I groped my way out, 
fumbled about for some wood, and with an Indian's assistance 
made up the fire, by which I sat with some palm-leaves over 
my head, and made a hearty meal of Jacu (a species of Pe?ielope), 
which had been stewed in the afternoon. When I had finished, I 
was pretty well soaked ; but to find or put on dry clothes was out 
of the question, so I again rolled myself up uncomfortably into 
a ball, and slept pretty well till daybreak, when it had just ceased 
raining, and a cup of hot coffee set me all right. We then 
resumed our journey, and this day had great difficulties to en- 
counter: several sunken logs were passed over with great labour 
but at last there was a tree fallen over the stream, which the 
canoe could not possibly pass under, so we had to spend more 
than an hour cutting it through with axes which we carried for 
the purpose. About three in the afternoon we reached another 
stopping-place, and as we did not wish to have a repetition of 
last night's enjoyment, the Indians set to work making a little 
sleeping-hut. They had a long way to go for thatch, as there 
was only one palm-tree about a mile off, and this they cut down 
to supply us with a roof. 

However, as we took the trouble to make a house, we had 
fine weather the three days we stayed, and did not want it. 
While here we had not much success. The hunters killed 
some deer, large birds, and monkeys, but did not meet with 
either of those I particularly wanted. Insects also, as at the 
former station, were very scarce, and though I got several 
curious small birds, I was not very well satisfied with the 
success of my expedition. 

Accordingly, after three days, I set out on my return, the 
rest of the party proceeding further up into the forest in search 
of a better hunting-ground. On the second day we again 
reached the open river, and I much enjoyed the change from 
the dark forest, the damp foliage and decaying leaves and 
branches, to the bright sunshine and the blue sky, with the 
chirping birds and the gay flowers on the banks. Passing an 
estate of Senhor Calistro's on the opposite side of the river, I 
went on shore to shoot a large goat-sucker which was sitting 
on the ground in the sunshine, and succeeded in killing two, 
which 1 skinned on cur way to Sao Joze, where we arrived 

1S49.] THE PIROROCO. 89 

just in time for supper, and were heartily received by Senhor 
Calistro. After a few days more I left his hospitable roof, 
loaded with luxuries : eggs, tapioca, a roast pig, pine-apples, 
and sweets were sent to my canoe ; and I bade adieu with 
regret to my kind host. 

On our way down I again encountered the "piroroco" 
when I hardly expected it. We had gone in shore at a sugar 
estate to wait for the tide, when the agent told us we had 
better put out further into the stream, as the piroroco beat 
there. Though thinking he only wished to frighten us, we 
judged it prudent to do as he advised; and while we were 
expecting the tide to turn, a great wave came suddenly rushing 
along, and breaking on the place where our canoe had been 
at first moored. The wave having passed, the water was as 
quiet as before, but flowing up with great rapidity. As we 
proceeded down the river, we saw everywhere signs of its 
devastations in the uprooted trees which lined the shores all 
along, and the high mud-banks where the earth had been 
washed away. In winter, when the spring-tides are highest, 
the " piroroco " breaks with terrific force, and often sinks and 
dashes to pieces boats left incautiously in too shallow water. 
The ordinary explanations given of this phenomenon are 
evidently incorrect. Here there is no meeting of salt and 
fresh water, neither is the stream remarkably narrowed where 
it commences. I collected all the information I could re- 
specting the depth of the river, and the shoals that occur in it. 
Where the bore first appears there is a shoal across the river, 
and below that, the stream is somewhat contracted. The tide 
flows up past Para with great velocity, and entering the Guama 
river comes to the narrow part of the channel. Here the 
body of tidal water will be deeper and flow faster, and coming 
suddenly on to the shoal will form a w r ave, in the same 
manner that in a swift brook a large stone at the bottom will 
cause an undulation, while a slow-flowing stream will keep its 
smooth surface. This wave will be of great size, and, as there 
is a large body of water in motion, will be propagated onwards 
unbroken. Wherever there are shallows, either in the bed or 
on the margin of the river, it will break, or as it passes over 
slight shoals will be increased, and, as the river narrows, will 
go on with greater rapidity. When the tides are low, they rise 
less rapidly, and at the commencement a much less body of 

9 o 



water is put in motion : the depth of the moving water is less, 
and docs not come in contact with the bottom in passing over 
the shoal, and so no wave is formed. It is only when the 
body of water in motion, as the tide first flows in, is of 
sufficient depth, that it comes in contact with the shoal, and 
is, as it were, lifted up by it, forming a great rolling wave. 

The above diagram will show more clearly the manner in 
which I suppose the wave to the formed. A A represents the 
level of the water when the tide is out ; D D the bottom of 
the river ; B B the depth to which the water is put in motion 
at low tides, not reaching so deep as the bottom of the river 
at the shoal C, at which time no wave, but a swift current 
only, is formed ; C C the depth to which the water is set in 
motion at spring-tides, when the mass, coming in contact with 
the bottom at C, is lifted up, and forms a wave at E, which is 
propagated up the river. It appears, therefore, that there must 
exist some peculiar formation of the bottom, and not merely 
a narrowing and widening in a tidal river to produce a bore, 
otherwise it would occur much more frequently than it does. 
In the Mojii and Acarra the same phenomenon is said to take 
place ; and, as these rivers all run parallel to each other, it is 
probable that the same bed of rock running across produces 
a somewhat similar shoal in all of them. It may also easily 
be seen why there is only one wave, not a succession of them ; 
for, when the first wave has passed, the water has risen so 
much that the stream now flows clear over the shoal, and is 
therefore not affected by it. 

On arriving at Para I again took up my abode at Nazare. 
I had found in this voyage that my canoe was far too unsteady 
and confined to think of going up the Amazon in it, so I 


returned it to the owner, who had warranted it steady and 
adapted for my purpose, but, after much trouble and annoy- 
ance, I was obliged to lose the ^"io I had given in part 
payment. In the beginning of July my younger brother H. 
came out to Para to assist me ; and by the return of the vessel 
in which he arrived, I sent off my collections of fish and 
insects up to this time. 

We had the good fortune one day to fall in with a small 
flock of the rare and curious bell-bird (Chasmorhynchus carun- 
culatus), but they were on a very thick lofty tree, and took 
flight before we could get a shot at them. Though it was 
about four miles off in the forest, we went again the next day, 
and found them feeding on the same tree, but had no better 
success. On the third day we went to the same spot, but 
from that time saw them no more. The bird is of a pure 
white colour, the size of a blackbird, has a broad bill, and 
feeds on fruits. From the base of the bill above grows a 
fleshy tubercle, two to three inches long, and as thick as a 
quill, sparingly clothed with minute feathers : it is quite lax, 
and hangs down on one side of the bird's head, not stuck up 
like a horn, as we see it placed in some stuffed specimens. 
This bird is remarkable for its loud clear ringing note, like a 
bell, which it utters at midday, when most other birds are 

A few days after, we found feeding on the same tree some 
beautiful yellow parrots. They are called here imperial parrots, 
and are much esteemed because their colours are those of the 
Brazilian flag yellow and green. I had long been seeking 
them, and was much pleased when my brother shot one. It is 
the Conurus Carolines, and is figured by Spix in his expensive 
work on the birds of Brazil. 



Leave Para Enter the Amazon Its Peculiar Features Arrive at San- 
tarem The Town and its Inhabitants Voyage to Montealegre 
Mosquito Plague and its Remedy Journey to the Serras A Cattle 
Estate Rocks, Picture Writings, and Cave The Victoria rcgia 
Mandiocca Fields A Festa Return to Santarem Beautiful Insects 
Curious Tidal Phenomenon Leave Santarem Obydos Villa 
Nova A Kind Priest Serpa Christmas Day on the Amazon. 

We now prepared for our voyage up the Amazon ; and, from 
information we obtained of the country, determined first to go 
as far as Santarem, a town about five hundred miles up the 
river, and the seat of a considerable trade. We had to wait a 
long time to procure a passage, but at length with some 
difficulty agreed to go in a small empty canoe returning to 

We were to have the hold to ourselves, and found it very 
redolent of salt-fish, and some hides which still remained in if 
did not improve the odour. But voyagers on the Amazon 
must not be fastidious, so we got our things on board, and 
hung up our hammocks as conveniently as we could for the 

Our canoe had a very uneven deck, and, we soon found, a 
very leaky one, which annoyed us much by wetting our clothes 
and hammocks ; and there were no bulwarks, which, in the 
quiet waters of the Amazon, are not necessary. We laid in a 
good stock of provisions for the voyage, and borrowed some 
books from our English and American friends, to help to pass 
away the time ; and in the beginning of August, left Para with 
a fine wind, which soon carried us beyond the islands opposite 
the city into the wide river beyond. The next day we crossed 

1 849.] VOYAGE TO SANTA REM. 93 

the little sea formed opposite the mouth of the Tocantins, and 
sailed up a fine stream till we entered again among islands, 
and soon got into the narrow channel which forms the com- 
munication between the Para and Amazon rivers. We passed 
the little village of Breves, the trade of which consists princi- 
pally of india-rubber, and painted basins and earthenware, very 
brilliantly coloured. Some of our Indians went on shore while 
we stayed for the tide, and returned rather tipsy, and with 
several little clay teapot-looking doves, much valued higher up 
the country. 

We proceeded for several days in those narrow channels, 
which form a network of water a labyrinth quite unknown, 
except to the inhabitants of the district. We had to wait daily 
for the tide, and then to help ourselves on by warping along 
shore, there being no wind. A small montaria was sent on 
ahead, with a long rope, which the Indians fastened to some 
projecting tree or bush, and then returned with the other end 
to the large canoe, which was pulled up by it. The rope was 
then taken on again, and the operation repeated continually 
till the tide turned, when we could not make way against the 
current. In many parts of the channel I was much pleased 
with the bright colours of the leaves, which displayed all the 
variety of autumnal tints in England. The cause, however, was 
different : the leaves were here budding, instead of falling. On 
first opening they were pale reddish, then bright red, brown, 
and lastly green; some were yellow, some ochre, and some 
copper-colour, which, together with various shades of green, 
produced a most beautiful appearance. 

It was about ten days after we left Para that the stream 
began to widen out and the tide to flow into the Amazon 
instead of into the Para river, giving us the longer ebb to make 
way with. In about two days more we were in the Amazon 
itself, and it was with emotions of admiration and awe that we 
gazed upon the stream of this mighty and far-famed river. 
Our imagination wandered to its sources in the distant Andes, 
to the Peruvian Incas of old, to the silver mountains of Potosi, 
and the gold-seeking Spaniards and wild Indians who now 
inhabit the country about its thousand sources. What a grand 
idea it was to think that we now saw the accumulated waters 
of a course of three thousand miles ; that all the streams that 
for a length of twelve hundred miles drained from the snow- 


clad Andes were here congregated in the wide extent of ochre- 
coloured water spread out before us! Venezuela, Columbia, 
Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil six mighty states, spread- 
ing over a country far larger than Europe had each contri- 
buted to form the flood which bore us so peacefully on its 

We now felt the influence of the easterly wind, which during 
the whole of the summer months blows pretty steadily up the 
Amazon, and enables vessels to make way against its powerful 
current. Sometimes we had thunder-storms, with violent 
squalls, which, as they were generally in the right direction, 
helped us along the faster ; and twice we ran aground on 
shoals, which caused us some trouble and delay. We had 
partly to unload the canoe into the montaria, and then, by 
getting out anchors in the deep water, managed after some 
hard pulling to extricate ourselves. Sometimes we caught fish, 
which were a great luxury for us, or went on shore to purchase 
fruit at some Indian's cottage. 

The most striking features of the Amazon are its vast 
expanse of smooth water, generally from three to six miles 
wide ; its pale yellowish-olive colour ; the great beds of aquatic 
grass which line its shores, large masses of which are often 
detached, and form floating islands ; the quantity of fruits and 
leaves and great trunks of trees which it carries down, and its 
level banks clad with lofty unbroken forest. In places the 
white stems and leaves of the Cecropias give a peculiar aspect, 
and in others the straight dark trunks of lofty forest-trees form 
a living wall along the water's edge. There is much animation, 
too, on this giant stream. Numerous flocks of parrots, and the 
great red and yellow macaws, fly across every morning and 
evening, uttering their hoarse cries. Many kinds of herons 
and rails frequent the marshes on its banks, and the large 
handsome duck (Chenalopex jubatd) is often seen swimming 
about the bays and inlets. But perhaps the most characteristic 
birds of the Amazon are the gulls and terns, which are in great 
abundance : all night long their cries are heard over the sand- 
banks, where they deposit their eggs, and during the day they 
constantly attracted our attention by their habit of sitting in a 
row on a floating log, sometimes a dozen or twenty side by 
side, and going for miles down the stream as grave and motion- 
less as if they were on some very important business. These 













birds deposit their eggs in little hollows in the sand, and the 
Indians say that during the heat of the day they carry water in 
their beaks to moisten them and prevent their being roasted 
by the glowing rays of the sun. Besides these there are divers 
and darters in abundance, porpoises are constantly blowing in 
every direction, and alligators are often seen slowly swimming 
across the river. 

On the north bank of the Amazon, for about two hundred 
miles, are ranges of low hills, which, as well as the country 
between them, are partly bare and partly covered with brush 
and thickets. They vary from three hundred to one thousand 
feet high, and extend inland, being probably connected with the 
mountains of Cayenne and Guiana. After passing them there 
are no more hills visible from the river for more than two 
thousand miles, till we reach the lowest ranges of the Andes : 
they are called the Serras de Paru, and terminate in the Serras 
de Montealegre, near the little village of Montealegre, about 
one hundred miles below Santarem. A few other small villages 
were passed, and here and there some Brazilian's country-house 
or Indian's cottage, often completely buried in the forest. 
Fishermen were sometimes seen in their canoes, and now and 
then a large schooner passing down the middle of the river, 
while often for a whole day we would not pass a house or see 
a human being. The wind, too, was seldom enough for us to 
make way against the stream, and then we had to proceed 
by the laborious and tedious method of warping already 

At length, after a prolonged voyage of twenty-eight days, we 
reached Santarem, at the mouth of the river Tapajoz, whose 
blue, transparent waters formed a most pleasing contrast to the 
turbid stream of the Amazon. We brought letters of introduc- 
tion to Captain Hislop, an old Scotchman settled here many 
years. He immediately sent a servant to get a house for us, 
which after some difficulty was done, and hospitably invited 
us to take our meals at his table as long as we should find it 
convenient. Our house was by no means an elegant one, 
having mud walls and floors, and an open tiled roof, and all 
very dusty and ruinous ; but it was the best we could get, so 
we made ourselves contented. As we thought of going to 
Montealegre, three days' voyage down the river, before settling 
ourselves for any time at Santarem, we accepted Captain 

96 TRAVELS ON THE AMAZON. \Scptcmbet, 

Hislop's kind invitation as far as regarded dinner, but managed 
to provide breakfast and tea for ourselves. 

The town of Santarem is pleasantly situated on a slope at 
the mouth of the Tapajoz, with a fine sandy beach, and a little 
hill at one end, where a mud fort commands the approach 
from the Amazon. The houses are neat and the streets regular, 
but, owing to there being no wheeled vehicles and but few 
horses, they are overgrown with grass. The church is a 
handsome building with two towers, and the houses are mostly 
coloured white or yellow, with the doors and windows painted 
bright green. There is no quay or wharf of any kind, every- 
thing being landed in montarias, so that you can seldom get 
on shore without a wet shoe and stocking. There is a fine 
beach extending for some miles above and below the town, 
where all the washing of the place is done, the linen being 
beautifully bleached on the hot sand. At all hours of the day 
are plenty of bathers, and the Negro and Indian children are 
quite amphibious animals. At the back of the town are 
extensive sandy campos, scattered over with myrtles, cashews, 
and many other trees and bushes, and beyond are low hills, 
some bare, and others covered with thick forest. 

The trade here is principally in Brazil-nuts, sarsaparilla 
which is the best on the Amazon, farinha, and salt-fish, 
some of which articles are obtained from the Mundruciis, an 
industrious tribe of Indians inhabiting the Tapajoz. There 
are here, as in Para, many persons who live an idle life, entirely 
supported by the labours of a few slaves which they have 
inherited. The local executive government consists of a 
" Commandante Militar," who has charge of the fort and a 
dozen or two of soldiers ; the " Commandante dos trabalha- 
dores," who superintends the Indians engaged in any public 
service; the " Juiz de direito," or civil and criminal judge of 
the district ; the " Delegardo de policia," who has the 
management of the passport office, the police, etc., the " Vi- 
cario," or priest, and a few subordinate officers. In the evening 
some of these, and a few of the principal traders, used gener- 
ally to meet in front of Captain Hislop's house, which was in 
an airy situation overlooking the river, where they would sit 
and smoke, take snuff, and talk politics and law for an hour or 

Besides the Captain, there, were two Englishmen in San- 


tarem, who had resided there many years, and were married to 
Brazilian women. A day or two after our arrival they invited 
us to take a trip up to a pretty stream which forms a small 
lake a mile or two above the town. We went in a neat canoe, ' 
with several Indians and Negros, and plenty of provisions, to 
make an agreeable picnic. The place was very picturesque, 
with dry sands, old trees, and shady thickets, where we amused 
ourselves shooting birds, catching insects, and examining the 
new forms of vegetation which were everywhere abundant. 
The clear, cool water invited us to a refreshing bathe, after 
which we dined, and returned home by moonlight in the 

I was acquainted with the " Juiz de direito," having met him 
in Para, and he now very kindly offered to lend me an excellent 
canoe to go to Montealegre, and to give me introductions to 
his friends there ; but he had no men to spare, so these I had 
to obtain as I could. This was, as is always the case here, a 
difficult matter. Captain H. went with me to the Command- 
ante, who promised to give me three Indians, but after waiting 
a whole week we got only two ; the Juiz, however, kindly lent 
me one with his canoe, and with these we started. The first 
night we stayed at a cacao-plantation, where we got some 
excellent fresh fish. In the morning we took a walk among 
the cacao-trees, and caught numbers of a butterfly {Didonis 
biblis), which, though a common South American species, we 
had never found either at Santarem or Para : nor did I ever 
after see it until I reached Javita, near the sources of the Rio 
Negro. As another instance of the peculiar distribution of 
these insects, I may mention that during four years' collecting 
I saw the beautiful Epicalia Numilins only twice, once at 
Para, and once at Javita, stations two thousand miles apart. 

In the afternoon, just as we reached the mouth of the little 
river that flows by Montealegre, a violent storm came on 
suddenly, producing a heavy sea, and nearly capsizing our 
boat, which the men did not very well know how to manage ; 
but, after being some time in considerable danger, we got 
safely into smooth water, and, after about two hours' rowing 
up a winding stream, reached the village. The banks were 
mostly open, grassy, and half-flooded, with clumps of trees at 
intervals. Near the village was a range of high rocks, of a fine 
red and yellow colour, which we afterwards found to be merely 

98 TRAVELS ON THE AMAZON. [September, 

indurated clay, in some places very hard, in others soft and 
friable : they were clothed with wood to their summits, and 
had a very picturesque appearance. 

The village of Montealegre is situated on a hill about a 
quarter of a mile from the water's edge. The ascent to it is 
up a shallow ravine, and the path is entirely covered with deep, 
loose sand, which makes the walk a very laborious one. On 
each side arc numbers of large cactus-plants, of the branched 
candelabrum form, and twenty to thirty feet high : they grow 
in immense masses, having great woody stems as thick as a 
man's body, and were quite a novel feature in the landscape. 
The village itself forms a spacious square, in which the most 
conspicuous object is the skeleton of a large and handsome 
church of dark sandstone, which was commenced about twenty 
years ago, when the place was more populous and thriving, 
and before the revolutions which did so much injury to the 
province ; but there is little prospect of its ever being finished. 
The present church is a low, thatched, barn-like edifice, and 
most of the houses are equally poor in their appearance. 
There are no neat enclosures or gardens, nothing but weeds 
and rubbish on every side, with sometimes a few rotten palings 
round a corral for cattle. 

The trade of this place is in cacao, fish, calabashes, and 
cattle. The cacao is grown on the low lands along the banks 
of the rivers. It is here planted on cleared ground fully 
exposed to the sun, and does not seem to thrive so well as 
when in the shade of the partially cleared forest, which is the 
plan we had seen adopted in the Tocantins. When an Indian 
can get a few thousand cacao-trees planted, he passes an idle, 
quiet, contented life : all he has to do is to weed under the 
trees two or three times in the year, and to gather and dry the 
seeds. The fruit of the cacao-tree is of an oblong shape, about 
five inches long, and with faint longitudinal ribs. It is of a 
green colour, but turns yellow as it ripens, and it grows on the 
stem and larger branches by a short strong stalk, never on the 
smaller twigs ; it grows so firmly, that it will never fall off, but, 
if left, will entirely rot away on the tree. The outer covering 
is hard and rather woody. Within is a mass of seeds, which 
are the cacao-nuts, covered with a pure white pulp, which has 
a pleasant sub-acid taste, and when rubbed off in water and 
sweetened, forms an agreeable and favourite drink, In pre- 

1849.] MOSQUITOES. 99 

paring the cacao, this pulp is not washed off, but the whole is 
laid in the sun to dry. This requires some care, for if wetted 
by rain or dew it moulds and is spoilt : on large cacao planta- 
tions they have a drying-frame running on rollers, so that it 
can be pushed under a shed every night or on the approach of 
rain. The price of good cacao is about 35". for an arroba 
(thirty-two pounds). 

The fish are the pirarucu, which abound in all the lakes 
here, and give plenty of employment to the Indians in the dry 
season. The cattle estates are situated at the base of the 
adjacent serras, where there is a scanty pasture, but in the dry 
season the marshes which extend to the Amazon afford 
abundance of herbage. The calabashes, or " cuyas," are made 
in great quantities, and exported to Para and all parts of the 
Amazon. They are very neatly finished, scraped thin, and 
either stained of a shining black or painted in brilliant colours 
and gilt. The designs are fanciful, with sometimes figures of 
birds and animals, and are filled up with much taste and 
regularity. The Indian women make the colours themselves 
from various vegetable juices or from the yellow earth, and 
they are so permanent that the vessels may be constantly 
wetted for a long time without injury. There is no other 
place on the whole Amazon where painted calabashes are 
made with such taste and brilliancy of colour. 

We brought a letter of introduction to Senhor Nunez, a 
Frenchman from Cayenne, who has a small ^hop in the village ; 
and he soon procured us an empty house, to which we had 
our things carried. It consisted of two good parlours, several 
small sleeping-rooms, a large verandah, and a closed yard 
behind. We were warned that the mosquitoes were here very 
annoying, and we soon found them so, for immediately after 
sunset they poured in upon us in swarms, so that we found 
them unbearable, and were obliged to rush into our sleeping- 
rooms, which we had kept carefully closed. Here we had 
some respite for a time, but they soon found their way in at 
the cracks and keyholes, and made us very restless and 
uncomfortable all the rest of the night. 

After a few days' residence we found them more tormenting 
than ever, rendering it quite impossible for us to sit down to 
read or write after sunset. The people here all use cow-dung 
burnt at their doors to keep away the " praga," or plague, as 

ico TRAVELS ON THE AMAZON. \Septimbef t 

they very truly call them, it being the only thing that has any 
effect. Having now got an Indian to cook for us, we every 
afternoon sent him to gather a basket of this necessary article, 
and just before sunset we lighted an old earthen pan full of it 
at our bedroom door, in the verandah, so as to get as much 
smoke as possible, by means of which we could, by walking 
about, pass an hour pretty comfortably. In the evening every 
house and cottage has its pan of burning dung, which gives 
rather an agreeable odour ; and as there are plenty of cows 
and cattle about, this necessary of life is always to be pro- 

We found the country here an undulating, sandy plain, in 
some places thickly covered with bushes, in others with larger 
scattered trees. Along the banks of the streams were some 
flat places and steep banks, all thickly clothed with wood, 
while at a distance of ten or twelve miles were several fine rocky 
mountains, on one of which was a curious and conspicuous 
pillar of rock, with a flat overhanging cap, something like a tall 
mushroom. The cactus before mentioned was everywhere 
abundant, and often in the most magnificent and lofty masses. 
Pine-apples were found growing wild in large beds in the 
thickets, and the cashew was also general. On the rocky 
slopes above the river were numerous springs gushing out, 
where on the moistened rock grew curious ferns and mosses 
and pretty creeping plants. These shady groves formed our 
best collecting-ground for insects. Here we first found the 
beautiful indigo-blue butterfly, the Callithea Lefiriearii, sitting 
on leaves in the shade, and afterwards more abundantly on 
stems from which a black gummy sap was exuding. Here 
were also many trogons and jacamars, and a curious creeper, 
with a long sickle-shaped bill (Dendrocolaptes sp.). 

We much wished to visit the serras, which daily seemed 
more inviting ; and the account we had heard of the Indian 
picture-writings which exist there increased our curiosity. We 
accordingly borrowed a small montaria of Senhor Nunez, as 
we had to go five or six miles by water to a cattle estate 
situated at the foot of the mountain. Our canoe was furnished 
with a mat sail, made of strips of the bark of a large water- 
plant, and as soon as we got away from the village we hoisted 
it and were carried briskly along : it was rather nervous work 
at times, as the sail was far too heavy for the canoe, and 

1849.] TRIP IN A MONTARIA. 101 

rendered it very unsteady whenever there came a little extra 
puff of wind. Numerous divers and darters were swimming in 
the river or seated upon trees on its banks. We tried to shoot 
some, but without effect, as these birds are so active in the 
water that even when wounded they dive and swim beneath it 
so rapidly as to render all attempt to capture them fruitless. 
We then entered a narrower branch of the stream, which we 
soon found to be much impeded by water-plants growing in 
large floating masses. We had now no wind, and had to 
paddle, till the weeds blocked up the channel so completely 
that we could get on no further. Our Indian then went 
ashore, and cut two long poles with forked ends, and with 
these we commenced pushing on the canoe by means of the 
great masses of weeds, which were so thick and solid as to 
afford a tolerable hold to the fork. Now and then we would 
emerge into clear water, and could row a little among pretty 
Utricularias and Pontederias. Then, again, we would enter 
into a mass of weeds and tall grass, completely filling up the 
channel and rising above our heads, through which we almost 
despaired to make our way ; the grass, too, cut the hands 
severely if it merely brushed against them. On the banks 
was now to be seen a vast extent of flat, grassy campo, half 
water and half land, which in the rainy season is a complete 
lake. After forcing our way with great labour for several 
miles, we at length reached the cattle estate, where we were 
kindly received by the owner, to whom we had a note of 

The house was situated close to the great marsh which 
extends from the Amazon to the serras. It was built of mud, 
with two or three rooms, and an open shed adjoining, used as 
kitchen and sleeping-place for the Indians. A corral a square 
enclosed yard for the cattle was near, and at the back rose 
the sloping ground towards the mountain. All around were 
interspersed thickets and open ground, and the picturesque 
masses of cactus rose in every direction. We strolled about a 
little before dark, and shot a couple of pretty green purple- 
shouldered paroquets, one of the smallest species that inhabits 
the country. When we returned to the house we were offered 
some new milk, and then sat outside the door looking at the 
strange accoutrements of some of the herdsmen, who were 
going on horseback to some distant part of the estate. Their 

102 TRAVELS ON THE AMAZON. [September, 

curious and clumsy-looking wooden saddles, huge stirrups, 
long lassos, and leather ammunition-bags, with long guns and 
powder-horns of formidable dimensions, made them striking 
figures, and the more picturesque from their being dusky 
mulattoes. As soon as the sun set the mosquitoes made their 
appearance, and the doors of the house were shut, a pan of 
cow-dung lighted outside, and a lamp within. After a short 
time supper was announced, and we sat down on a mat on the 
floor to an excellent repast of turtle, which had been recently 
brought from the Amazon. We then turned into our hammocks, 
which were hung across the room in every direction. In fact, 
the house was pretty well occupied before we came, so that we 
were now rather crowded ; but a Brazilian thinks nothing of 
that, and is used to sleep in company. The doors and 
windows were well closed, and though rather warm we did not 
suffer from the mosquitoes, an annoyance to which any other is 

The next morning we prepared for our expedition to the 
mountain, and as we did not know whether we should have to 
stay the night, we provided ourselves with sufficient provisions, 
and a large gourd to carry water. We walked some miles along 
the side of the marsh, on which were many curious aquatic 
birds, till we arrived at a deserted cottage, where we made our 
breakfast, and then turned off by a path through a wood. On 
passing this we found ourselves at the foot of a steep slope, 
covered with huge blocks of stone, in the greatest confusion, 
overgrown with coarse sedges and shrubs, rendering any ascent 
among them extremely difficult. Just above was the curious 
pillar we had seen from the village, and which we determined 
to reach. After a most fatiguing scramble over the rocks and 
among innumerable chasms, we found ourselves on the plat- 
form below the columnar mass, which rises perpendicularly 
thirty or forty feet, and then hangs over at the top all round in 
a most curious and fearful manner. Its origin is very plainly 
to be seen. The pillar is of friable stone, in horizontal layers, 
and is constantly decaying away by the action of the weather. 
The top is formed by a stratum of hard crystalline rock, which 
resists the rain and sun, and is apparently now of the same 
diameter that the pillar which supports it originally was. 

We had thought, looking from below, that we could have 
proceeded along the ridge of the mountain to the further end, 


where the cave and picture-writings were to be found. Now, 
however, we saw the whole summit completely covered with 
the same gigantic masses of rock and the same coarse rigid 
vegetation which had rendered our ascent so difficult, and 
made our proceeding for miles along similar ground quite out 
of the question. Our only remedy was to descend on the 
other side into the sandy plain which extended along its base. 
We first took a good view of the prospect which spread out 
before us, a wide undulating plain covered with scattered 
trees and shrubs, with a yellow sandy soil and a brownish 
vegetation. Beyond this were seen, stretching out to the 
horizon, a succession of low conical and oblong hills, studding 
the distant plain in every direction. Not a house was to be 
seen, and the picture was one little calculated to impress the 
mind with a favourable idea of the fertility of the country or 
the beauty of tropical scenery. Our descent was very pre- 
cipitous. Winding round chasms, creeping under overhanging 
rocks, clinging by roots and branches, we at length reached 
the bottom, and had level ground to walk on. 

We now saw the whole side of the mountain, along its 
summit, split vertically into numerous rude columns, in all 
of which the action of the atmosphere on the different strata 
of which they were composed was more or less discernible. 
They diminished and increased in thickness as the soft and 
hard beds alternated, and in some places appeared like globes 
standing on pedestals, or the heads and bodies of huge giants. 
They did not seem to be prismatic, but to be the result of suc- 
cessive earthquake shocks, producing vertical cracks in cross 
directions, the action of the sun and rains then widening the 
fissures and forming completely detached columns. 

As we proceeded along the sands we found the heat very 
oppressive. We had finished the water in our gourd, and 
knew not where to get more. Our Indian told us there was 
a spring halfway up the mountain, a little further on, but it 
might now have failed, as it was the height of the dry season. 

We soon came in sight of the spot, and a group of Mauritia 
palms, which always grow in damp places, as well as some 
patches of brilliant green herbage, gave us hope. On reaching 
the palms we found a moist, boggy soil, but such a slow 
filtering of water among the weeds that it took nearly half an 
hour to fill our gourd. Seeing a mass of green at the very 

104 TRAVELS ON THE AMAZON. {September, 

base of the perpendicular rocks higher up, where the spring 
appeared to issue, we proceeded there, and found, to our great 
joy, a little trickle of pure and delightfully cool water, and a 
shady place where we could rest and eat our lunch in comfort. 

We then went on till we arrived where our guide said the 
cave was situated ; but having been there only once he could 
not find it again, among the confused mass of rock which in 
several places appeared to present openings, but which on 
searching the spot deceived us. After various clamberings we 
gave up the search, and determined to return home and get 
a better guide another day. 

On our way back we passed by a high cliff, on which were 
some of the picture-writings I had so much wished to see. 
They were executed in a red tint, produced apparently by 
rubbing them in with pieces of the rock, which in places is of that 
colour. They looked quite fresh, and w r ere not at all obliterated 
by the weather, though no one knows their antiquity. They 
consisted of various figures, rudely executed, some representing 
animals, as the alligator and birds, others like some household 
utensils, and others again circles and mathematical figures, 
while there were some very complicated and fantastic forms : 
all were scattered irregularly over the rock to the height of eight 
or ten feet. The size of most of the figures was from one to 
two feet. 

I took a general sketch of the whole, and some accurate 
tracings of the more curious single figures, which have unfor- 
tunately been since lost. The night felt chilly and damp, and 
we had nothing to cover ourselves with, or should have slept 
on the mountain. As it was, we arrived home very tired about 
eight o'clock, and were soon glad to turn into our hammocks. 

The next day Senhor Nunez determined to go with us him- 
self to show us the cave and some more picture-writings, 
situated in another part of the mountain. We now went on 
horseback, but could no more find the cave than before, and 
were forced to send our Indian for an old man who lived a 
couple of miles off, and who knew the place well. While he 
was gone, Senhor Nunez went with me to find the picture- 
writings, which we did after a fatiguing walk. They were 
situated on a perpendicular rock, rising from the top of a steep, 
stony slope, which almost deterred me from getting up to them, 
as I was very tired and thirsty, and there was no water. How- 

1 849.] THE CAVE. 105 

ever, having come on purpose to see them, I was determined 
to persevere, and soon reached the place. They were much 
larger than the others, and extended higher up the rock ; the 
figures, too, were all different, consisting principally of large 
concentric circles, called by the natives the sun and moon, and 
several others more complicated and three or four feet high. 
Among them were two dates of years about 1770, in very 
neat well-formed figures, which I have no doubt were the work 
of some travellers who wished to show that they knew how the 
others were executed, and to record the date of their visit. 
Near some of the higher figures were two or three impressions 
of hands in the same colour, showing the palm and all the 
fingers very distinctly, as if the person executing the upper 
figures had stood on another's shoulders and supported himself 
with one hand (smeared with the red colour) while he drew with 
the other. I also took copies of the figures at this place, 
which, being large and exposed, are visible from a considerable 
distance round, and are more generally known than the others, 
which are in a secluded and out-of-the-way situation, and were 
probably not visited by any European traveller before myself. 

We walked some distance further, to get some water, before 
returning towards the cave. There we found that our guides 
had arrived, and they soon led us up a steep path to its mouth, 
which is so well concealed by trees and bushes that our failing 
to discover it was not to be wondered at. The entrance is a 
rude archway, fifteen or twenty feet high; but what is most 
curious is a thin piece of rock which runs completely across 
the opening, about five feet from the ground, like an irregular 
flat board. This stone has not fallen into its present position, 
but is a portion of the solid rock harder than the rest, so that 
it has resisted the force which cleared away the material above 
and below it. Inside there is a large irregularly arched 
chamber, with a smooth sandy floor, and at the end there are 
openings into other chambers ; but as we had not brought 
candles we could not explore them. There was nothing about 
the cave at all remarkable, except the flat transverse rock at 
its mouth. The vegetation around it was by no means 
luxuriant or beautiful, nor were there any flowers worth noticing. 
In fact, many of our caves in the limestone districts of 
England are in every way more picturesque and interesting. 

I had heard of a plant growing in the pools in the marsh, 

106 TRAVELS ON THE AMAZON. {September, 

which I was convinced must be the Victoria regia. Senhor 
Nunez told me there were plenty near his house, and early 
the next morning he sent an Indian to try and get me one. 
After some search the man found one, with a half-opened 
flower, and brought it to me. The leaf was about four feet 
in diameter, and I was much pleased at length to see this 
celebrated plant ; but as it has now become comparatively 
common in England, it is not necessary for me to describe it. 
It is found all over the Amazon district, but rarely or never 
in the river itself. It seems to delight in still waters, growing 
in inlets, lakes, or very quiet branches of the river, fully exposed 
to the sun. Here it grew in the pools left in the bog ; but in 
June the water would be twenty or thirty feet deeper, so its 
leaf and flower-stalks must increase in length rapidly while the 
water rises, as they did not seem to be very long now. I took 
the leaf home, in order to dry some portions of it. It is called 
by the Indians " Uaupe Japdna " (the Jacana's oven), from the 
resemblance of the leaf, with its deep rim, to the clay ovens 
used for making farinha. 

As w r e wished to get home that day, we took leave of our 
kind host, and again had to pole our way over the grass and 
weeds in the small stream. It did not, however, now seem so 
tedious as on our ascent, and we soon got into the open river. 

Passing along a sandy shore, our Indian saw signs of turtles' 
eggs, and immediately jumped out and commenced scraping 
away the sand, in a very short time turning up a hatful of eggs 
of the small turtle called "Tracaxa." A little lower down 
there was an old tree giving a tempting shade, so we made a 
fire under it, boiled our eggs, made some coffee, and with some 
farinha and beef we had brought with us made an excellent 
breakfast. Proceeding on, we fell in with a great number of 
alligators, of a large size, swimming about in all directions. 
We fired at some of them, but only succeeded in making them 
dive rapidly to the bottom. They are much feared by the 
natives, who never venture far into the water when bathing. 
In a place where we had bathed a few days previously, we saw 
one close in shore, and resolved to be more careful for the 
future, as every year some lives are lost by incautiousness. 

After a few days more at the village, we paid a visit to a 
mandiocca plantation some miles in the interior, where there 
is a considerable extent of forest-land, and where we therefore 

1 849.] SANTA REM. 107 

expected to find more insects. We went on foot, carrying our 
redes, guns, boxes, nets, and other necessaries for a week's 
stay. On arriving, we found the only accommodation to 
consist of a little low thatched hut, just large enough to hang 
our hammocks in, and the only inhabitants four or five Negroes 
belonging to the place. 

However, we soon made ourselves at home, and our little 
coffee-pot supplied us with an unfailing and refreshing luxury. 
We found in the forest several scarce butterflies pretty abun- 
dant, and among them a new species of Catagramma, which 
we had only met with very rarely at Para trogons and jacamars 
were also plentiful, but there was not any great variety either 
of birds or insects. There was no running stream here, but a 
kind of moist, marshy flat, in which shallow holes were dug 
and soon became filled with water, whence the only supply of 
this necessary was obtained. 

On returning to the village my brother sprained his leg, 
which swelled and formed an abscess above the knee, quite 
preventing him from going out for a fortnight. After some 
trouble I purchased a small canoe here, in which I intended 
to return to Santarem, and afterwards proceed up the Amazon 
to Barra, on the Rio Negro. 

A festa took place before we left. The church was decorated 
with leaves and flowers, and sweetmeats were provided for all 
visitors. Dancing and drinking then went on all night and 
during the following day, and we were left to cook our own 
meals, as our Indian was a performer on the violin, and did 
not think it at all necessary to ask us in order to absent himself 
two days. The Indians now came in from all the country 
round, and I bought a number of the pretty painted calabashes 
for which this place is celebrated. 

Soon after we returned to Santarem, where we found our 
house occupied, but got another, consisting of two small mud- 
floored rooms and a yard at the back, situated at the further 
end of the town. We here engaged an old Neoro woman to 
cook for us, and soon got into a regular routine of living. 
We rose at six, got ready our collecting-boxes, nets, etc., 
while our old cook was preparing breakfast, which we took at 
seven ; and having given her money to buy meat and vegetables 
for dinner, started at eight for a walk of about three miles, to a 
good collecting-ground we had found below the town. 

ic8 TRAVELS ON THE AMAZON. [November, 

We continued hard at work till about two or three in the 
afternoon, generally procuring some new and interesting insects, 
Here was the haunt of the beautiful Callithca sapphira, one of 
the most lovely of butterflies, and of numerous curious and 
brilliant X\\.\\e\Erycinidce. As we returned we stayed to bathe in 
the Tapajoz, and on arriving at home immediately ate a water- 
melon, which was always ready for us, and which at that time 
we found most grateful and refreshing. We then changed our 
clothes, dined, set out our insects, and in the cool of the 
evening took tea, and called on or received visits from our 
Brazilian or English friends among whom was now Mr. 
Spruce, the botanist, who arrived here from Para shortly after 
we had returned from Montealegre. 

The constant hard exercise, pure air, and good living, not- 
withstanding the intense heat, kept us in the most perfect 
health, and I have never altogether enjoyed myself so much. 
In Santarem there is an abundance of beef, fish, milk, and 
fruits, a dry soil, and clear water, a conjunction of advantages 
seldom to be met with in this country. There were some 
boggy meadows here, more like those of Europe than one often 
sees so near the equator, on which were growing pretty small 
Melastomas and other flowers. The paths and campos were 
covered with flowering myrtles, tall Melastomas, and numbers 
of passion-flowers, convolvuluses, and bignonias. At the back 
of the town, a mile or two off, were some bare conical hills, to 
which I paid some visits. They were entirely formed of 
scoriae, and were as barren and uninviting as can possibly be 
imagined. A curious tidal phenomenon was to be seen here : 
the tide rises in the Amazon to considerably above Santarem, 
but it never flows tip, the water merely rising and falling. The 
river Tapajoz had now very little water, and its surface was 
below the level of the Amazon at high water, so that the tide 
was every day seen to flow up the Tapajoz, while a hundred 
yards out in the stream of the Amazon it was still flowing 
rapidly down. 

It was now November, and as some rain had fallen, and 
gloomy weather had set in, we determined to start for the Rio 
Negro as soon as we could. Our canoe was at length ready, 
having taken us a long time to repair the bottom, which was 
quite rotten. After much delay the Commandante had pro- 
cured us three Indians, who were to go with us only to Obydos, 

1 849-] A KIND PRIEST. 109 

about three days up the Amazon, and had given us a letter to 
the authorities there, to furnish us with more. Mr. Spruce 
had set out for Obydos just a week before us, in a large canoe, 
the owner of which had offered him a passage. On our 
arrival we found him unpacking his things, and he told us he 
had only got there the night previous, having been ten days on 
a journey which is frequently performed in a day and a night : 
want of wind was the cause, and the owner of the canoe, who 
was with them, would not move at night. But to such delays 
the unfortunate traveller who ventures on the Amazon must 
make up his mind patiently to submit. Captain Hislop had 
written to a friend of his to lend us an unoccupied house, 
where we had to remain several days quite alone, for our 
Indians, after unloading the canoe, went off immediately, and 
we could not get others till the Commandante had sent to 
fetch them from a considerable distance. 

We amused ourselves in the forest, where we found insects 
very abundant, but mostly of species we had before obtained. 
As our canoe had leaked so much in coming here that we 
were almost afraid to venture in it, we had it pulled up on the 
beach, and discovered some of the cracks, which we stopped 
as well as we could by plugging in cotton dipped in hot pitch. 
At length we set off again with two Indians, who were to go 
with us only to Villa Nova, the next town, about four days' 
voyage from Obydos. As we had only two, we could not do 
much with the paddles, one being required at the helm ; but 
luckily the wind was strong and steady, and we went on day 
and night very briskly. We had to cross the river several 
times, generally at night. The wind created a great swell, 
and as we dashed along furiously through it, I was rather 
doubtful of our rotten boat holding together. In four days, 
however, we reached Villa Nova in safety, and I was very glad 
to have got so far on our way. We were kindly received on 
the beach by the priest of the village, Padre Torquato, who 
invited us in such a pressing manner to stay in his house till 
we should get men to go on, that we could not refuse. The 
Commandante, to whom we brought letters, to give us more 
men, was out at his sitio ; they therefore had to be sent after 
him, and it would probably be several days before we had an 
answer, and perhaps much longer before the men were 


The Padre was a very well-educated and gentlemanly man, 
and made us as comfortable as he could, though, as he had 
only two small rooms to share with us, he was putting himself 
to much inconvenience on our account. He is already known 
to the English reader from having accompanied Prince 
Adalbert of Prussia up the Xingu, and he well deserves all the 
encomiums the Prince has bestowed up on him. lie was very 
fond of enigmas, which he amused himself and his friends by 
inventing and solving. I much delighted him by turning such 
of our best as would bear the process into Portuguese ; and I 
also translated for him the old puzzle on the word "tobacco" 
in Portuguese, "tabaco," which did just as well and 
much pleased him. I took here some fine insects, but it was 
too late in the season : from July to October Villa Nova would, 
I have no doubt, be a fine locality for an entomologist. 

A week passed away, and the men came not, and as I was 
very anxious to be off, the Padre agreed with a trader to let me 
have three of his Indians, he taking instead those that the 
Commandante would probably soon send for me. One of the 
Indians, however, did not choose to come, and was driven to the 
canoe by severe lashes, and at the point of the bayonet. He 
was very furious and sullen when he came on board, vowing 
that he would not go with me, and would take vengeance on 
those who had forced him on board. He complained bitterly 
of being treated like a slave, and I could not much blame him. 
I tried what I could to pacify him, offering him good pay and 
plenty to eat and drink, but to no purpose ; he declared he 
would go back from the first place we stopped at, and kill the 
man who had struck him. At the same time he was very 
civil, assuring me that he felt no ill-will against me, as I had 
had nothing to do with it. It was afternoon when we started, 
and about sunset we stayed to make supper ; and then the ill- 
used Indian politely wished me good-bye, and taking his 
bundle of clothes returned through the forest to the village. 
As I could not go on with two only, I sent one of them back 
early in the morning to get another in the place of the one who 
had run away, which he did, and returning about ten o'clock, 
we pursued our journey. 

We went along slowly, now and then sailing, but generally 
rowing, and suffering much annoyance from the rain, which 
was almost incessant. The mosquitoes, too, were a great 


torture : night after night we were kept in a state of feverish 
irritation, unable to close our eyes for a moment. Our Indians 
suffered quite as much as ourselves : it is a great mistake to 
suppose that the mosquitoes do not bite them. You hear 
them, all night long, slapping on their bare bodies to drive 
their tormentors off; or they will completely roll themselves up 
in the sail, suffering the pangs of semi-suffocation to escape 
from the irritating bites. There are particular spots along 
the banks of the river where there are no mosquitoes ; and no 
inducement would make our men paddle so hard as the proba- 
bility of reaching one of these places before midnight, and 
being enabled to enjoy the comforts of sleep till morning. 

Towards the end of December, we reached the little village 
of Serpa, where we found a festa or procession going on, a 
number of women and girls, with ribands and flowers, dancing 
along to the church with the priest at their head, in a most 
ludicrous manner. In the evening we went to the house where 
the dancing took place, and had some wine and sweetmeats. 
We bought here some coffee and a large basket of plantains. 
On Christmas day we reached a house where they had just 
caught a quantity of fish, and we wanted to buy some, which 
was refused, but they gave us a fine fat piece for our dinner. 
We bought some eggs, and when we stopped for the day con- 
cocted a farinha pudding, and so, with our fish and coffee, 
made a very tolerable Christmas dinner, while eating which 
our thoughts turned to our distant home, and to dear friends 
who at their more luxurious tables would think of us far away 
upon the Amazon. 



Appearance of the Rio Negro The City of Barra, its Trade and its 
Inhabitants Journey up the Rio Negro The Lingoa Geral 
The Umbrella Bird Mode of Life of the Indians Return to Barra 
Strangers in the City Visit to the Solimoes The Gapo Mana- 
query Country Life Curl-crested Aracaris Vultures and Oncas 
Tobacco Growing and Manufacture The Cow-Fish Senhor Bran- 
dao A Fishing Party with Senhor Henrique Letters from England. 

On the 31st of December, 1849, we arrived at the city of 
Barra on the Rio Negro. On the evening of the 30th the sun 
had set on the yellow Amazon, but we continued rowing till 
late at night, when we reached some rocks at the mouth of the 
Rio Negro, and caught some fine fish in the shallows. In the 
morning we looked with surprise at the wonderful change in 
the water around us. We might have fancied ourselves on the 
river Styx, for it was black as ink in every direction, except 
where the white sand, seen at the depth of a few feet through 
its dusky wave, appeared of a golden hue. The water itself 
is of a pale brown colour, the tinge being just perceptible in 
a glass, while in deep water it appears jet black, and well 
deserves its name of Rio Negro " black river." 

We brought letters to Senhor Henrique Antony, an Italian 
gentleman settled here many years, and the principal merchant 
in the city ; who received us with such hearty hospitality as at 
once to make us feel at home. He gave us the use of two 
large rooms in a new house of his own not quite finished, and 
invited us to take our meals at his table. 

The city of Barra do Rio Negro is situated on the east bank 
of that river, about twelve miles above its junction with the 
Amazon. It is on uneven ground, about thirty feet above the 

1850.] THE CITY OF BARRA. 113 

high-water level, and there are two small streams or gullies 
running through it, where during the wet season the water 
rises to a considerable height, and across which are two 
wooden bridges. The streets are regularly laid out, but quite 
unpaved, much undulating, and full of holes, so that walking 
about at night is very unpleasant. The houses are generally 
of one story, with red-tiled roofs, brick floors, white- and yellow- 
washed wails, and green doors and shutters ; and, when the 
sun shines, are pretty enough. The " Barra," or fort, is now 
represented by a fragment of wall and a mound of earth, and 
there are two churches, but both very poor and far inferior to 
that of Santarem. The population is five or six thousand, of 
which the greater part are Indians and half-breeds \ in fact, 
there is probably not a single person born in the place of pure 
European blood, so completely have the Portuguese amalga- 
mated with the Indians. The trade is chiefly in Brazil-nuts, 
salsaparilha, and fish ; and the imports are European cotton- 
goods of inferior quality, and quantities of coarse cutlery, 
beads, mirrors, and other trinkets for the trade with the Indian 
tribes, of which this is the head-quarters. The distance from 
Para is about a thousand miles, and the voyage up in the wet 
season often takes from two to three months, so that flour, 
cheese, wine, and other necessaries, are always very dear, and 
often not to be obtained. The more civilised inhabitants of 
Barra are all engaged in trade, and have literally no amuse- 
ments whatever, unless drinking and gambling on a small 
scale can be so considered : most of them never open a book, 
or have any mental occupation. 

As might be expected, therefore, etiquette in dress is much 
attended to, and on Sunday at mass all are in full costume. 
The ladies dress very elegantly in a variety of French muslins 
and gauzes ; they all have fine hair, which they arrange care- 
fully, and ornament with flowers, and never hide it or their 
faces under caps or bonnets. The gentlemen, who pass all 
the week in dirty warehouses, in their shirt-sleeves and slippers, 
are then seen in suits of the finest black, with beaver hats, 
satin cravats, and patent-leather boots of the smallest dimen- 
sions ; and then is the fashionable visiting time, when every 
one goes to see everybody, to talk over the accumulated 
scandal of the week. Morals in Barra are perhaps at the 
lowest ebb possible in any civilised community : you will every 



day hear things commonly talked of, about the most respectable 
families in the place, which would hardly be credited of the 
inhabitants of the worst parts of St. Giles's. 

The wet season had now set in, and we soon found there 
was little to be done in collecting birds or insects at Barra. I 
had been informed that this was the time to find the celebrated 
umbrella chatterers in plumage, and that they were plentiful in 
the islands about three days' voyage up the Rio Negro. On 
communicating to Senhor Henrique my wish to go there, he 
applied to some of the authorities to furnish me with Indians 
to make the voyage. When they came, which was after three 
or four days, I started in my own canoe, leaving my brother H. 
to pay a visit to an estate in another direction. My voyage 
occupied three days, and I had a good opportunity of observing 
the striking difference between this river and the Amazon. 
Here were no islands of floating grass, no logs and uprooted 
trees, with their cargoes of gulls, scarcely any stream, and few 
signs of life in the black and sluggish waters. Yet when there 
is a storm, there are greater and more dangerous waves than 
on the Amazon. When the dark clouds above cause the water 
to appear of a yet more inky blackness, and the rising waves 
break in white foam over the vast expanse, the scene is gloomy 
in the extreme. 

At Barra the river is about a mile and a half wide. A few 
miles up it widens considerably, in many places forming deep 
bays eight or ten miles across. Further on, again, it separates 
into several channels, divided by innumerable islands, and the 
total width is probably not less than twenty miles. We 
crossed where it is four or five miles wide, and then keeping 
up the left bank we entered among the islands, when the 
opposite shore was no more seen. We passed many sandy 
and pebbly beaches, with occasional masses of sandstone and 
volcanic rock, and a long extent of high and steep gravelly 
banks, everywhere, except in the most precipitous places, 
covered with a luxuriant vegetation of shrubs and forest-trees. 
We saw several cottages, and a village prettily situated on a 
high, grassy slope, and at length reached Castanheiro, the 
residence of Senhor Balbino, to whom I brought a letter. After 
reading it he asked me my intentions, and then promised to get 
me a good hunter to kill birds and any other animals I wanted. 
The house of Senhor Balbino is generally known as the 


" Sobrado," or upper-storied house, being the only one of 
the kind out of Barra. It was, however, in rather a dilapidated 
condition, the ladder which served for stairs wanting two steps, 
and requiring a great exertion of the muscles of the leg to 
ascend it. This, Senhor Henrique afterwards informed me, 
had been in the same state for several years, though Balbino 
has always a carpenter at work making canoes, who might put 
in a couple of boards in an hour. 

An Indian living near now arrived, and we accompanied 
him to his house, where I was to find a lodging. It was about 
half a mile further up the river, at the mouth of a small stream, 
where there was a little settlement of two or three families. 
The part which it was proposed I should occupy was a small 
room with a very steep hill for a floor, and three doorways, 
two with palm-leaf mats and the other doing duty as a window. 
No choice being offered me, I at once accepted the use of 
this apartment, and, my men having now brought on my canoe, 
I ordered my boxes on shore, hung up my hammock, and at 
once took possession. The Indians then left me ; but a boy 
lent me by Senhor Henrique remained with me to light a fire 
and boil my coffee, and prepare dinner when we were so 
fortunate as to get any. I borrowed a table to work at, but, 
owing to the great inclination of the ground, nothing that had 
not a very broad base would stay upon it. The houses here 
were imbedded in the forest, so that although there were four 
not twenty yards apart, they were not visible from each other, 
the space where the forest had been cut down being planted 
with fruit-trees. 

Only one of the men here could speak Portuguese, all the 
rest using the Indian language, called Lingoa Geral, which I 
found very difficult to get hold of without any books, though 
it is an easy and simple language. The word igaripe, applied 
to all small streams, means "path of the canoe"; tatatinga, 
smoke, is literally "white fire." Many of the words sound like 
Greek, as sapucaia, a fowl ; apegdua, a man. In the names 
of animals the same vowel is often repeated, producing a very 
euphonious effect ; as parciwd, a parrot ; maracaja, a tiger-cat ; 
sucurujii, a poisonous snake. My Indian boy spoke Lingoa Geral 
and Portuguese, and so with his assistance I got on very well. 

The next morning my hunter arrived, and immediately went 
out in his canoe among the islands, where the umbrella-birds 


are found. In the evening after dark he returned, bringing 
one fine specimen. This singular bird is about the size of 
a raven, and is of a similar colour, but its feathers have a 
more scaly appearance, from being margined with a different 
shade of glossy blue. It is also allied to the crows in its 
structure, being very similar to them in its feet and bill. On 
its head it bears a crest, different from that of any other bird. 
It is formed of feathers more than two inches long, very thickly 
set, and with hairy plumes curving over at the end. These can 
be laid back so as to be hardly visible, or can be erected and 
spread out on every side, forming a hemispherical, or rather a 
hemi-ellipsoidal dome, completely covering the head, and even 
reaching beyond the point of the beak : the individual feathers 
then stand out something like the down-bearing seeds of the 
dandelion. Besides this, there is another ornamental appendage 
on the breast, formed by a fleshy tubercle, as thick as a quill 
and an inch and a half long, which hangs down from the neck, 
and is thickly covered with glossy feathers, forming a large 
pendent plume or tassel. This also the bird can either press to 
its breast, so as to be scarcely visible, or can swell out, so as 
almost to conceal the forepart of its body. In the female the 
crest and the neck-plume are less developed, and she is al- 
together a smaller and much less handsome bird. It inhabits 
the flooded islands of the Rio Negro and the Solimoes, never 
appearing on the mainland. It feeds on fruits, and utters a 
loud, hoarse cry, like some deep musical instrument ; whence 
its Indian name, Ueramimb'e, " trumpet-bird." The whole of 
the neck, where the plume of feathers springs from, is covered 
internally with a thick coat of hard, muscular fat, very difficult 
to be cleaned away, which, in preparing the skins, must be 
done, as it would putrefy, and cause the feathers to drop off. 
The birds are tolerably abundant, but are shy, and perch on 
the highest trees, and, being very muscular, will not fall unless 
severely wounded. My hunter worked very perseveringly to get 
them, going out before daylight and often not returning till nine 
or ten at night, yet he never brought me more than two at a 
time, generally only one, and sometimes none. 

The only other birds found in the islands were the beautiful 
and rare little bristle-tailed manakin, and two species of curassow- 
bird. On the mainland, the white bell-bird was found on the 
loftiest trees of the forest, almost out of gunshot. Three were 

1850.] FOOD OF THE INDIANS. 117 

brought me, much disfigured with blood, having been shot at 
four or five times each before they fell. The beautiful trumpeter 
(Psophia crepitans)^ a different species from that found at Pard, 
was plentiful here. A rare little toucan (Pteroglossus Azarce), 
and a few parrots, hawks, and Brazilian partridges, were the 
only other birds we met with. 

Insects were by no means abundant, there being few paths in 
the woods in which to hunt for them or to cause them to ac- 
cumulate together ; for I have invariably found that in an open 
path through the forest the chequered light and shade causes 
a variety of plants to spring up and flowers to blow, which in 
their turn attract a great variety of insects. An open pathway 
seems to have similar attractions for many kinds of insects to 
what it has for ourselves. The great blue butterflies, and many 
smaller ones, will course along it for miles, and if driven into 
the forest will generally soon return to it again. The gleams 
of sunshine and the free current of air attract some; others seek 
the blossoms which there abound ; while every particle of animal 
matter in the pathway is sure to be visited by a number of dif- 
ferent species : so that upon the number and extent of the paths 
and roads which traverse the forest will depend in a great measure 
the success of the entomologist in these parts of South America. 

There were two other rooms in the house where I lived, 
inhabited by three families. The men generally wore nothing 
but a pair of trousers, the women only a petticoat, and the 
children nothing at all. They all lived in the poorest manner, 
and at first I was quite puzzled to find out when they had their 
meals. In the morning early they would each have a cuya of 
mingau * ; then about mid-day they would eat some dry farinha 
cake or a roasted yam ; and in the evening some more mingau 
of farinha or plantains. I could not imagine that they really had 
nothing else to eat, but at last was obliged to come to the con- 
clusion that various preparations of mandiocca and water formed 
their only food. About once a week they would get a few 
small fish or a bird, but then it would be divided among so 
many as only to serve as a relish to the cassava bread. My 
hunter never took anything out with him but a bag of dry 
farinha, and after being away fourteen hours in his canoe would 
come home and sit down in his hammock, and converse as if 

* Mingau is a kind of porridge made either of farinha or of the large 
plantain called pacova. 


his thoughts were far from eating, and then, when a cuya of 
mingau was offered him, would quite contentedly drink it, and 
be ready to start off before daybreak the next morning. Yet 
he was as stout and jolly-looking as John Bull himself, fed daily 
on fat beef and mutton. 

Most of the wild fruits which are great favourites with these 
people, especially the women and children are of an acrid or 
bitter taste, to which long practice only can reconcile a foreigner. 
Often, when seeing a little child gnawing away at some strange 
fruit, I have asked to taste it, thinking that it must be sweet to 
please at that lollipop-loving age, and have found a flavour like 
aloes or quassia, that I could not get out of my mouth for an 
hour ; others equally relished are like yellow soap, and some as 
sour as verjuice. 

These people almost always seem at work, but have very little 
to show for it. The women go to dig up mandiocca or yams, 
or they have weeding or planting to do, and at other times have 
earthen pots to make, and their scanty clothing to mend and 
wash. The men are always busy, either clearing the forest or 
cutting down timber for a canoe or for paddles, or to make a 
board for some purpose or other ; and their houses always 
want mending, and then there is thatch to be brought from a 
long distance ; or they want baskets, or bows and arrows, or 
some other thing which occupies nearly their whole time, and 
yet does not produce them the bare necessaries of life, or allow 
them leisure to hunt the game that abounds in the forest around 
them. This is principally the result of everybody doing every- 
thing for himself, slowly and with much unnecessary labour, 
instead of occupying himself with one kind of industry, and 
exchanging its produce for the articles he requires. An Indian 
spends a week in cutting down a tree in the forest, and fashion- 
ing an article which, by the division of labour, can be made for 
sixpence : the consequence is, that his work produces but six- 
pence a week, and he is therefore all his life earning a scanty 
supply of clothing, in a country where food may be had almost 
for nothing. 

Having remained here a month, and obtained twenty-five 
specimens of the umbrella-bird, I prepared to return to Barra. 
On the last day my hunter went out he brought me a fine male 
bird alive. It had been wounded slightly on the head, just 
behind the eye, and had fallen to the ground stunned, for in 

1850.] RETURN TO BARRA. 119 

a short time it became very active, and when he brought it me 
was as strong and fierce as if it was quite uninjured. I put it 
in a large wicker basket, but as it would take no food during 
two days I fed it by thrusting pieces of banana down its 
throat ; this I continued for several days, with much difficulty, 
as its claws were very sharp and powerful. On our way to Barra 
I found by the river-side a small fruit which it ate readily ; 
this fruit was about the size of a cherry, of an acid taste, and was 
swallowed whole. The bird arrived safely in the city, and 
lived a fortnight ; when one day it suddenly fell off its perch 
and died. On skinning it, I found the shot had broken the 
skull and entered to the brain, though it seems surprising that 
it should have remained so long apparently in perfect health. 
I had had, however, an excellent opportunity of observing its 
habits, and its method of expanding and closing its beautiful 
crest and neck-plume. 

I had now a dull time of it in Barra. The wet season had 
regularly set in ; a day hardly ever passed without rain, and 
on many days it was incessant. We seized every opportunity 
for a walk in the forest, but scarcely anything was to be found 
when we got there, and what we did get was with the greatest 
difficulty preserved ; for the atmosphere was so saturated with 
moisture that insects moulded, and the feathers and hair 
dropped from the skins of birds and animals so as to render 
them quite unserviceable. Luckily, however, there were a good 
number of foreigners in Barra, so we had a little company. 
Two traders on the Amazon, an American and an Irishman, 
had arrived. Mr. Bates had reached Barra a few weeks after 
me, and was now here, unwilling, like myself, to go further up 
the country in such uninviting weather. There were also three 
Germans, one of whom spoke English well and was a bit of a 
naturalist, and all were good singers, and contributed a little 

There was also a deaf and dumb American, named Baker, a 
very humorous and intelligent fellow, who was a constant fund 
of amusement both for the Brazilians and ourselves. He had 
been educated in the same institution with Laura Bridgman, 
as a teacher of the deaf and dumb. He seemed to have a 
passion for travelling, probably as the only means of furnishing 
through his one sense the necessary amount of exercise and 
stimulus to his mind. He had travelled alone through Peru 


and Chile, across to Brazil, through Para to Barra, and now 
proposed going by the Rio Branco to Demerara, and so to the 
United States. He supported himself by selling the deaf and 
dumb alphabet, with explanations in Spanish and Portuguese. 
He carried a little slate, on which he could write anything in 
English or French, and also a good deal in Spanish, so that 
he could always make his wants known. He made himself at 
home in every house in Barra, walking in and out as he liked, 
and asking by signs for whatever he wanted. He was very 
merry, fond of practical jokes, and of making strange gesticu- 
lations. He pretended to be a phrenologist ; and on feeling 
the head of a Portuguese or Brazilian would always write down 
on his slate, " Very fond of the ladies ; " which on being trans- 
lated would invariably elicit, " He verdade" (that's very true), 
and signs of astonishment at his penetration. He was a great 
smoker, and would drink wine and spirits so freely as some- 
times to make him carry his antics to a great length; still he 
was much liked, and will be long remembered by the people 
of Barra. But, poor fellow ! he was never to see his native 
land again : he died a few months after, at the fortress of Sao 
Joaquim, on the Rio Branco,- it was said, of jaundice. 

Notwithstanding all this, the time passed heavily enough ; 
and though Mr. Hauxwell soon after arrived to add to our 
party, still nothing could make up for the desolation and death 
which the incessant rains appeared to have produced in all 
animated nature. Between two and three months passed away 
in this unexciting monotony, when, the river having nearly 
risen to its height, and there being some appearance of the 
weather improving, I determined on taking a journey to the 
Solimoes (as the Amazon is called above the entrance of the 
Rio Negro), to the estate of Senhor Brandao, my kind host's 

The river was now so high that a great portion of the low- 
lands between the Rio Negro and the Amazon was flooded, 
being what is called " Gapo." This is one of the most singular 
features of the Amazon. It extends from a little above San- 
tarem up to the confines of Peru a distance of about seven- 
teen hundred miles and varies in width on each side of the 
river from one to ten or twenty miles. From Santarem to 
Coari, a little town on the Solimoes, a person may go by canoe 
in the wet season without once entering into the main river, 

1850.] SCENERY IN THE GAPO. 121 

He will pass through small streams, lakes, and swamps, and 
everywhere around him will stretch out an illimitable waste of 
waters, but all covered with a lofty virgin forest. For days he 
will travel through this forest, scraping against tree-trunks, and 
stooping to pass beneath the leaves of prickly palms, now level 
with the water, though raised on stems forty feet high. In 
this trackless maze the Indian finds his way with unerring 
certainty, and by slight indications of broken twigs or scraped 
bark, goes on day by day as if travelling on a beaten road. In 
the Gapo peculiar animals are found, attracted by the fruits of 
trees which grow only there. In fact, the Indians assert that 
every tree that grows in the Gapo is distinct from all those 
found in other districts ; and when we consider the extra- 
ordinary conditions under which these plants exist, being sub- 
merged for six months of the year till they are sufficiently lofty 
to rise above the highest water-level, it does not seem impro- 
bable that such may be the case. Many species of trogons 
are peculiar to the Gapo, others to the dry virgin forest. The 
umbrella chatterer is entirely confined to it, as is also the little 
bristle-tailed manakin. Some monkeys are found there only 
in the wet season, and whole tribes of Indians, such as the 
Purupurus and Miiras, entirely inhabit it, building small, easily- 
removable huts on the sandy shores in the dry season, and on 
rafts in the wet ; spending a great part of their lives in canoes, 
sleeping suspended in rude hammocks from trees over the deep 
water, cultivating no vegetables, but subsisting entirely on the 
fish, turtle, and cow-fish which they obtain from the river. 

On crossing the Rio Negro from the city of Barra, we entered 
into a tract of this description. Our canoe was forced under 
branches and among dense bushes, till we got into a part 
where the trees were loftier, and a deep gloom prevailed. 
Here the lowest branches of the trees were level with the 
surface of the water, and were many of them putting forth 
flowers. As we proceeded we sometimes came to a grove of 
small palms, the leaves being now only a few feet above us, 
and among them was the maraja, bearing bunches of agreeable 
fruit, which, as we passed, the Indians cut off with their long 
knives. Sometimes the rustling of leaves overhead told us 
that monkeys were near, and we would soon perhaps discover 
them peeping down from among the thick foliage, and then 
bounding rapidly away as soon as we had caught a glimpse of 


them. Presently we came out into the sunshine, in a grassy 
lake filled with lilies and beautiful water-plants, little yellow 
bladder-worts {Ulricularia)^ and the bright-blue flowers and 
curious leaves with swollen stalks of the Pontederias, Again 
in the gloom of the forest, among the lofty cylindrical trunks 
rising like columns out of the deep water : now a splashing of 
falling fruit around us would announce that birds were feeding 
overhead, and we could discover a flock of paroquets, or some 
bright-blue chatterers, or the lovely pompadour, with its delicate 
white wings and claret-coloured plumage ; now with a whirr a 
trogon would seize a fruit on the wing, or some clumsy toucan 
make the branches shake as he alighted. 

But what lovely yellow flower is that suspended in the air 
between two trunks, yet far from either ? It shines in the 
gloom as if its petals were of gold. Now we pass close by it, 
and see its stalk, like a slender wire a. yard and a half long, 
springing from a cluster of thick leaves on the bark of a tree. 
It is an Oncidium, one of the lovely orchis tribe, making these 
gloomy shades gay with its airy and brilliant flowers. Presently 
there are more of them, and then others appear, with white and 
spotted and purple blossoms, some growing on rotten logs 
floating in the water, but most on moss and decaying bark just 
above it. There is one magnificent species, four inches across, 
called by the natives St. Ann's flower (Flor de Santa Anna), of 
a brilliant purple colour, and emitting a most delightful odour ; 
it is a new species, and the most magnificent flower of its kind 
in these regions; even the natives will sometimes deign to 
admire it, and to wonder how such a beautiful flower grows 
" atoa " (uselessly) in the Gapo. 

At length, after about eight hours' paddling, we came out 
again into the broad waters of the Solimoes. How bright 
shone the sun ! how gay flowed the stream ! how pleasant it 
was again to see the floating grass islands, and the huge logs 
and trees, with their cargoes of gulls sitting gravely upon them ! 
These, with the white-leaved and straggling umboobas {Cecro- 
pici), give an aspect to the Amazon quite distinct from that of 
the Rio Negro, independently of their differently-coloured 
waters. Now, however, there was no land to be reached, and 
we feared we should have to sup on farinha and water, but 
luckily found a huge floating trunk fast moored amongst some 
grass near the side, and on it, with the assistance of a few 

1850.] MAN A Q UER Y. 123 

dead twigs, we soon made a fire, roasted our fish, and boiled 
some coffee. But we had intruded on a colony of stinging 
ants, who, not liking the vicinity of fire, and not choosing to 
take to the water, swarmed into our canoe and made us pay for 
our supper in a very unpleasant manner. Dusk soon came 
on, and we had to stay for the night ; but the mosquitoes made 
their presence known, and we lay uncomfortable and feverish 
till the morning. By the next night we had reached the mouth 
of the small stream that leads us to Manaquery, and had few 
mosquitoes to annoy us. In the morning we went on, and 
soon plunged again into the Gapo, passing through some small 
lakes so choked up with grass that the canoe could hardly be 
forced over it. Again we emerged into the igaripe here 
about a quarter of a mile wide and at ten in the morning 
reached Manaquery. 

The estate is situated on the south side of the Solimoes, 
about a hundred miles above its junction with the Rio Negro. 
The whole tract of country round it consists of igaripes, or 
small streams, lakes, gapo, and patches of high and dry land, 
so scattered and mixed together that it is very difficult to tell 
whether any particular portion is an island or not. The land, 
for a short distance on the banks of the stream, rises in an 
abrupt, rocky cliff, thirty or forty feet above high-water mark : 
the rocks are of a volcanic nature, being a coarse and often 
vitreous scoria. On ascending by some rude steps, I found 
myself in a flat grassy meadow, scattered over with orange- 
trees, mangoes, and some noble tamarind and calabash trees, 
and at the back a thicket of guavas. 

Cattle and sheep were grazing about, and pigs and poultry 
were seen nearer the house. This was a large thatched shed, 
half of which contained the cane-mill, and was only enclosed 
by a railing instead of a wall ; the other half had coarse mud 
walls, with small windows and thatch shutters. The floor was 
of earth only, and very uneven, yet here resided Senhor 
Brandao and his daughter, whom I had met at Barra. The fact 
was that some ten or twelve years before, during the Revolu- 
tion, a party of Indians burnt down his house, and completely 
destroyed his garden and fruit-trees, killing several of his 
servants and cattle, and would have killed his wife and 
children, had they not, at a moment's notice, escaped to the 
forest, where they remained three days, living on Indian corn 


and wild fruits. Senhor B. was at the time in the city, 
and while the Revolution lasted, which was several years, he 
was glad to have his family with him in safety, and could not 
think of rebuilding his house. Afterwards he was engaged as 
Delegarde de Policia for some years, and he had now only just 
returned to live on his estate with one unmarried daughter, 
and of course had plenty to do to get things a little in order. 
His wife being dead, he did not feel the pleasure he had 
formerly done in improving his place, and it is, I think, not 
improbable that, after having lived here a few years, he will 
get so used to it that he will think it quite unnecessary to go 
to the expense of rebuilding his house. Still it seemed rather 
strange to see a nicely-dressed young lady sitting on a mat on 
a very mountainous mud-floor, and with half-a-dozen Indian 
girls around her engaged in making lace and in needlework. 
She introduced me to an elder married sister who was staying 
with them, and soon Senhor B. came in from his cane-field, 
and heartily welcomed me. About twelve we sat down to 
dinner, consisting of tambaki, the most delicious of fish, with 
rice, beans, and Indian-meal bread, and afterwards oranges 
ad libitum. 

I stayed here nearly two months, enjoying a regular country 
life, and getting together a tolerable collection of birds and 

In a few days a hunter I had engaged in Barra arrived, and 
forthwith commenced operations. In the afternoon he generally 
brought me some birds or monkeys, which were very plentiful. 
We rose about half-past five, and by six had a cup of hot coffee ; 
I then sat down to skin birds, if any had been brought late 
over-night, or, if not, took my gun and walked out in search 
of some. At seven or half-past w r e had a basin of Indian- 
meal porridge, or chocolate, with new milk, as a sort of 
breakfast. At twelve punctually we dined, the standing dish 
being tambaki, varied occasionally with fowl, cow-fish, deer, or 
other game. At four we had another cup of coffee, with 
biscuit or fruit, and at seven we took supper of fish like our 
dinner, if the fisherman had arrived. In the morning, for a 
couple of hours, I generally went with my net in search of 
insects. Several rare butterflies were found sitting on the 
river's side, on the margin of mud left by the retiring waters. 
Small toucans or aragaris of several species were very abundant, 

1850.] COUNTRY LIFE. 125 

the rarest and most beautiful being the " curl-crested," whose 
head is covered with little glossy curls of a hard substance, 
more like quill or metallic shavings than feathers. These are 
at times plentiful, but did not appear till some weeks later than 
the other species, when I was at last rewarded for my patience 
by obtaining several beautiful specimens. 

The common black vultures were abundant, but were rather 
put to it for food, being obliged to eat palm-fruits in the forest 
when they could find nothing else. Every morning it was an 
amusing sight to see them run after the pigs the moment they 
got up, three or four following close at the heels of each 
animal, for the purpose of devouring its dung the moment it 
was dropped. The pigs seemed to be very much annoyed at 
such indecent behaviour, and would frequently turn round and 
take a run at the. birds, who would hop out of the way or fly 
a short distance, but immediately resume their positions as 
soon as the pig continued his walk. 

I am convinced, from repeated observations, that the 
vultures depend entirely on sight, and not at all on smell, in 
seeking out their food. While skinning a bird, a dozen of them 
used to be always waiting attendance at a moderate distance. 
The moment I threw away a piece of meat they would all run 
up to seize it ; but it frequently happened to fall in a little 
hollow of the ground or among some grass, and then they would 
hop about, searching within a foot of it, and very often go away 
without finding it at all. A piece of stick or paper would bring 
them down just as rapidly, and after seeing what it was they would 
quietly go back to their former places. They always choose 
elevated stations, evidently to see what food they can discover ; 
and when soaring at an immense height in the air, they will 
descend into the forest where a cow has died or been killed, 
long before it becomes putrid or emits any strong smell. I 
have often wrapped a piece of half-putrid meat in paper and 
thrown it to them, and even then, after hopping up to it, they 
will retire quite satisfied that it is only paper, and nothing at 
all eatable. 

Senhor B. had two fine sows, very fat, and each was expected 
to bring forth a litter of pigs in a few days. There were no 
pig-sties or sheds of any kind ; and all animals retire into the 
forest on such occasions, and in a few days return with their 
young family, just as cats do with us. These sows had both 


disappeared for some days, and had not returned, and we 
began to be afraid that a jaguar which had been heard near 
the house, and whose track had been seen, had destroyed 
them. A search was accordingly made, and the remains of a 
sow were discovered in a thicket not far from the house. The 
next night we heard the jaguar roaring within fifty yards of us, 
as we lay in our hammocks in the open shed ; but there being 
plenty of cattle, pigs, and dogs about, we did not feel much 
alarmed. Presently we heard a report of a gun from an 
Indian's cottage near, and made sure the animal was dead. 
The next morning we found that it had passed within sight of 
the door, but the man was so frightened that he had fired at 
random and missed, for there are some Indidns who are as 
much cowards in this respect as any one else. For two or 
three days more we heard reports of the animal at different 
parts of the estate, so my hunter went out at night to lie in 
wait for it, and succeeded in killing it with a bullet. It was an 
onca of the largest size, and was believed to have killed, 
besides the sow, a cow which had disappeared some weeks 

The weather was now very dry : no rain had fallen for some 
time ; the oranges were fully ripe, and the grass, so green and 
fresh when I arrived, was beginning to assume a brownish- 
yellow tinge. Tobacco-picking had begun, and I saw the 
process of the manufacture as carried on here. Tobacco is 
sown thickly on a small patch of ground, and the young plants 
are then set in rows, just as we do cabbages. They are much 
attacked by the caterpillar of a sphinx moth, which grows to a 
large size, and would completely devour the crop unless care- 
fully picked off. Old men, and women, and children are 
therefore constantly employed going over a part of the field 
every day, and carefully examining the plants leaf by leaf till 
the insects are completely exterminated. When they show 
any inclination to flower, the buds are nipped off; and as soon 
as the leaves have reached their full size, they are gathered in 
strong wicker baskets, and are laid out in the house or a shed, 
on poles supported by uprights from the floor to the ceiling. In 
a few days they dry, and during the hot days become quite 
crisp ; but the moisture of the night softens them, and early in 
the morning they are flaccid. When they are judged sufficiently 
dry, every leaf must have the strong fibrous midrib taken out 

i 50.] TBR COW-FISH. 127 

of it. For this purpose all the household men, women, and 
children are called up at four in the morning, and are set to 
work tearing out the midrib, before the heat of the day makes 
the leaves too brittle to allow of the operation. A few of the 
best leaves are sometimes selected to make cigars, but the 
whole is generally manufactured into rolls of two or four pounds 
each. The proper quantity is weighed out, and placed 
regularly in layers on a table in a row about a yard long, rather 
thicker in the middle. Beginning at one end, this is carefully 
rolled up and wound round with a cord as tightly as possible. 
In a few days these rolls are opened out, to see if there is any 
tendency to heat or mould, and if all is right they are again 
made up with greater care. Every day they are rebound 
tighter and tighter, the operator sitting on the ground with the 
cord twisted round a post, and winding and tightening with all 
his strength, till at length the roll has become compressed into 
a solid mass about an inch in diameter, and gradually tapering 
towards each end. It is then wound closely from end to end 
with a neat strip of the rind of the Uaruma (a water-rush), and 
tied up in bundles of an arroba and half an arroba (thirty-two 
and sixteen pounds), and is ready for sale. When the tobacco 
is good, or has, as they term it, " much honey in it," it will cut 
as smooth and solid as a piece of Spanish liquorice, and can be 
bent double without cracking. The price varies according to 
the quality and the supply, from <\d. to ix. per pound. 

One day the fisherman brought us in a fine " peixe boi," or 
cow-fish, a species of Manatus, which inhabits the Amazon, 
and is particularly abundant in the lakes in this part of the 
river. It was a female, about six feet long, and near five in 
circumference in the thickest part. The body is perfectly 
smooth, and without any projections or inequalities, gradually 
changing into a horizontal semicircular flat tail, with no 
appearance whatever of hind limbs. There is no distinct neck ; 
the head is not very large, and is terminated by a large mouth 
and fleshy lips, somewhat resembling those of a cow. There 
are stiff bristles on the lips, and a few distantly scattered hairs 
over the body. Behind the head are two powerful oval fins, 
and just beneath them are the breasts, from which, on pressure 
being applied, flows a stream of beautiful white milk. The 
ears are minute holes, and the eyes very small The dung 
resembles that of a horse. The colour is a dusky lead, with 


some large pinkish-white marbled blotches on the belly. The 
skin is about an inch thick on the back, and a quarter of an 
inch on the belly. Beneath the skin is a layer of fat of a 
greater or less thickness, generally about an inch, which is 
boiled down to make an oil used for light and for cooking. 
The intestines are very voluminous, the heart about the size of 
a sheep's, and the lungs about two feet long, and six or seven 
inches wide, very cellular and spongy, and can be blown out 
h'ke a bladder. The skull is large and solid, with no front 
teeth ; the vertebras extend to the very tip of the tail, but 
show no rudiments of posterior limbs ; the fore limbs, on the 
contrary, are very highly developed, the bones exactly corre- 
sponding to those of the human arm, having even the five 
fingers, with every joint distinct, yet enclosed in a stiff inflexible 
skin, where not a joint can have any motion. 

The cow-fish feeds on grass at the borders of the rivers and 
lakes, and swims quickly with the tail and paddles ; and though 
the external organs of sight and hearing are so imperfect, these 
senses are said by the hunters to be remarkably acute, and to 
render necessary all their caution and skill to capture the 
animals. They bring forth one, or rarely two, young ones, which 
they clasp in their arms or paddles w r hile giving suck. They 
are harpooned, or caught in a strong net, at the narrow 
entrance of a lake or stream, and are killed by driving a 
wooden plug with a mallet up their nostrils. Each yields from 
five to twenty-five gallons of oil. The flesh is very good, 
being something between beef and pork, and this one furnished 
us with several meals, and was an agreeable change from our 
fish dietj 

As I now expected a canoe shortly to arrive, bringing me 
letters and remittances from England, after which I was 
anxious to set off for the Upper Rio Negro as soon as possible, 
I determined to return to Barra, and having agreed for a 
passage in a canoe going there, I took leave of my kind host. 
I must, however, first say a few words about him. Senhor Jose 
Antonio Brandao had come over from Portugal when very 
young, and had married early and settled, w T ith the intention 
of spending his life here. Very singularly for a Portuguese, 
he entirely devoted himself to agriculture. He built himself 
a country-house at Manaquery, on a lake near the main river, 
brought Indians from a distance to settle with him, cleared the 

1850.] SENHOR BR AND A 0. 129 

forest, planted orange, tamarind, mango, and many other fruit- 
bearing trees, made pleasant avenues, gardens, and pastures, 
stocked them well with cattle, sheep, pigs, and poultry, and set 
himself down to the full enjoyment of a country life. But 
about twenty years ago, while his family were yet young, 
disturbances and revolutions broke out, and he, as well as all 
natives of Portugal, though he had signed the constitution of 
the Empire, and was in heart a true Brazilian, became an 
object of dislike and suspicion to many of the more violent 
of the revolutionists. A tribe of Indians who resided near 
him, and to whom he had shown constant kindness, were 
incited to burn down his house and destroy his property. 
This they did effectually, rooting up his fruit-trees, burning his 
crops, killing his cattle and his servants, and his wife and 
family only escaped from their murderous arrows by timely 
flight to the forest. During the long years of anarchy and 
confusion which followed, he was appointed a magistrate in 
Barra, and was unable to look after his estate. His wife died, 
his children married, and he of course felt then little interest 
in restoring things to their former state. 

He is a remarkably intelligent man, fond of reading, but 
without books, and with a most tenacious memory. He has 
taught himself French, which he now reads with ease, and 
through it he has got much information, though of course 
rather tinged with French prejudice. He has several huge 
quarto volumes of Ecclesiastical History, and is quite learned 
in all the details of the Councils, and in the history of the 
Reformation. He can tell you, from an old work on geography, 
without maps, the length and breadth of every country in 
Europe, and the main particulars respecting it. He is about 
seventy years of age, thirsting for information, and has never 
seen a map ! Think of this, ye who roll in intellectual luxury. 
In this land of mechanics' institutions and cheap literature few 
have an idea of the real pursuit of knowledge under difficulties, 
of the longing thirst for information which there is no 
fountain to satisfy. In his conversation there was something 
racy and refreshing : such an absence of information, but such 
a fertility of ideas. He had read the Bible in Portuguese, as 
a forbidden book, though the priests make no very great 
objection to it here ; and it was something new to hear a 
man's opinions of it who had first read it at a mature age, and 


solely from a desire for information. The idea had not entered 
his mind that it -was all inspired, so he made objections to any 
parts which he thought incredible, or which appeared to him 
to be capable of a simple explanation; and, as might have 
been expected, he found of his own accord confirmation of the 
doctrines of the religion in which he had been brought up 
from childhood. 

On arriving at Barra, the expected canoe had not arrived, 
and many weeks passed wearily away. The weather was fine, 
but Barra is a very poor locality for making collections. 
Insects were remarkably scarce and uninteresting, and I looked 
forward anxiously to the time when I could start for some 
distant and more promising district. The season was very 
dry and hot : the thermometer, at two, every afternoon, 
reaching 94 and 95 in the shade, and not often sinking below 
75 during the night. The lowest which I observed, just 
before sunrise, was 70 , and the highest in the afternoon, 96 . 
There was scarcely any rain during the months of July and 
August, so the grass about the city was completely burnt up. 
The river was now falling rapidly, and the sandbanks in the 
Amazon were, some of them, just rising above the water. 

One day, Senhor Henrique made a party to go fishing, with 
a large drag-net, in the Solimoes. We started in the afternoon 
in a good canoe, with a party of about a dozen, and eight or 
ten Indian rowers ; and just before sunset, reached the mouth 
of the Rio Negro, and turned up into the strong and turbid 
waters of the Solimoes. There was a bright moon, and we 
kept on talking and singing, while passing the narrow channels 
and green islands on the north side of the river which looked 
most picturesquely wild and solitary by the pale silvery moon- 
light, and amid the solemn silence of the forest. By about 
midnight, we reached a large sandbank, just rising out of the 
water. Most of the party turned up their trousers, and waded 
though the shallows, till they reached the bank, where they 
began searching for small turtles' eggs, and those of gulls and 
other water-birds, which lay them in little hollows scraped in 
the sand. Gulls, divers, ducks, and sandpipers flew screaming 
about as we landed, and the splash of fish in the shallow water 
told us that there was abundance of sport for us. Senhor 
Henrique soon ordered the Indians to get out the net, and 
commenced dragging. Every time the net was drawn on 

1850.] A FISHING PARTY. 131 

shore we nearly filled a basket with numerous small fishes, 
and a few of larger size. There were quantities of little ones 
armed with spines, which inflict a serious wound if trodden on, 
so we had to be cautious with our bare feet. I was much 
interested in the great variety and the curious forms that every 
basketful contained. There were numbers of a little fish, 
peculiar to the Amazon, which inflates the fore part of the 
body into a complete ball, and when stamped upon explodes 
with a noise similar to that produced by the bursting of an 
inflated paper bag. 

After two or three hours, we felt rather tired, so we made a 
fire, and cooked some of our fish for a meal, which we might 
call supper or breakfast, as we pleased, for dawn was now 
appearing. We then again went on fishing, while others got 
their guns, and endeavoured to shoot some of the wild ducks. 
One gentleman, with a rifle, made an extraordinary shot, 
bringing down a single duck flying, at a long distance, with a 
bullet. Now it was daylight, I endeavoured to sketch some 
of the curious fish, but they were so numerous, and the sun 
was so hot, that I could do but little ; and as they became 
putrid in a few hours, I could not keep them for the purpose 
till we returned home. About ten in the morning we left off 
fishing, and began cooking. We had roasted, broiled, and 
stewed fish, and with oil and vinegar, and plenty of pepper and 
salt, made a very excellent breakfast. We also had wine, 
bread, and farinha, and coffee for those who preferred it. 
While we were at breakfast, our Indians lay down on the sand, 
in the sun, to take a nap, as they had been hard at work for 
two days without sleep. In about an hour they were roused 
to breakfast, and then at noon we started on our way home. 

At five in the afternoon we reached a place at the mouth of 
the Rio Negro, where there are some flat rocks, and generally 
abundance of fish. Here most of the party began fishing 
again with rod and line, and were pretty successful ; and a 
fisherman coming in with a fine pirarucu, weighing thirty or 
forty pounds, Senhor Henrique bought it of him, in order to 
have something worth showing from our excursion. 

We then proceeded homewards, many of us dozing ; and 
our Indians rowing hard, but hardly able to keep their eyes 
open. Now and then, one would regularly drop off to sleep, 
but keep on paddling mechanically, without pulling very hard. 

132 TRAVELS ON THE RIO NEGRO. [August, 1850. 

One of his companions would then tickle his nose, and rouse 
him up, and his look of astonishment to find he had been 
sleeping would set all in a roar of laughter at his expense. It 
was midnight when we reached Barra, and we were all pretty 
glad to seek our hammocks. 

Several weeks more passed wearily, till at length we had 
news of the long-expected canoe ; one of the owners, having 
arrived beforehand in a montaria, informing us that it would 
be up in two days more. There was at this time in the city a 
trader from the upper Rio Negro, a Portuguese, and generally 
considered a very good sort of fellow. He was to start the 
next day, but on Senhor Henrique's representation, he agreed 
to stay till Senhor Neill Bradley's canoe arrived, and then give 
me a passage up to the Falls of the Rio Negro, or to any other 
place I might wish to go to. The next afternoon the expected 
vessel reached Barra ; about six in the evening I got a long 
arrear of letters from Para, from England, from California, and 
Australia, some twenty in number, and several dated more than 
a year back. I sat up till two in the morning reading them, lay 
down, but slept little till five in the morning ; I then com- 
menced answering the most important of them, packing up 
buying forgotten necessaries for the voyage making up a box 
for England giving instructions to my brother H., who was 
to stay in Barra, and, in six months, return to England, and 
by noon was ready to start on a voyage of seven hundred miles, 
and, probably, for a year's absence. The Juiz de Direito, or 
Judge of the district, had kindly sent me a turkey and a 
sucking-pig ; the former of which I took alive, and the latter 
roasted ; so I had a stock of provisions to commence the 




Quit Barra for the Upper Rio Negro Canoe and Cargo Great Width 
of the River Carvoeiro and Barcellos Granite Rocks Castanheiro 
A Polite Old Gentleman S. Joze A New Language The Cataracts 
S. Gabriel Nossa Senhora da Gufa Senhor L. and his Family 
' Visit to the River Cobati An Indian Village The Serra Cocks of 
the Rock Return to Guia Frei Joze dos Santos Innocentos. 

It was on the last day of August, 1850, at about two o'clock 
on a fine bright afternoon, that I bade adieu to Barra, looking 
forward with hope and expectation to the distant and little- 
known regions I was now going to visit. I found our canoe a 
tolerably roomy one, it being about thirty-five feet long and 
seven broad. The after-part had a rough deck, made of split 
palm-stems, covered with a tolda, or semicircular roof, high 
enough to sit up comfortably within it, and well thatched with 
palm-leaves. A part of the front opening was stopped up on 
each side, leaving a doorway about three feet wide. The 
forepart was covered with a similar tolda, but much lower, 
and above it was a flat deck, formed like the other, and 
supported by upright poles along the sides. This is called 
the jangada, or raft, and serves for the Indians to stand 
on, while rowing with oars formed of paddle-blades fixed to 
long poles. The canoe was well loaded with all the articles 
most desired by the semi-civilised and savage inhabitants of 
the Upper Rio Negro. There were bales of coarse cotton 
cloth and of the commonest calico, of flimsy but brilliantly- 
coloured prints, of checked and striped cottons, and of blue 
or red handkerchiefs. Then there were axes and cutlasses, 
and coarse pointed knives in great profusion, fish-hooks by 
thousands, flints and steels, gunpowder, shot, quantities of blue, 

134 TRAVELS ON THE RIO NEGRO. {September, 

black, and white beads, and countless little looking-glasses ; 
needles and thread, and buttons and tape were not forgotten. 
There was plenty of caxaca (the rum of the country), and wine 
for the trader's own use, as well as a little brandy for 
" medicine," and tea, coffee, sugar, vinegar, oil for cooking and 
for light, biscuits, butter, garlic, black pepper, and other little 
household luxuries, sufficient to last the family for at least 
six months, and supply the pressing wants of any famishing 

My host, Senhor Joao Antonio de Lima, was a middle-sized, 
grizzly man, with a face something like that of the banished lord 
in the National Gallery. He had, however, all the politeness 
of his countrymen, placed the canoe and everything in it " at 
my orders," and made himself very agreeable. Our tolda 
contained numerous boxes and packages of his and my own, 
but still left plenty of room for us to sit or lie down comfort- 
ably ; and in the cool of the morning and evening we stood 
upon the plank at its mouth, or sat upon its top, enjoying the 
fresh air and the cool prospect of dark waters around us. For 
the first day or two we found no land, all the banks of the 
river being flooded, but afterwards we had plenty of places on 
which to go on shore and make our fire. Generally, as soon 
after daylight as we could discover a convenient spot, we 
landed and made coffee, into which we broke some biscuit and 
put a piece of butter, which I soon found to be a very great 
improvement in the absence of milk. About ten or eleven we 
stopped again for breakfast the principal meal for the Indians. 
We now cooked a fowl, or some fish if we had caught any 
during the night. About six we again landed to prepare 
supper and coffee, which we sat sipping on the top of the 
tolda, while we proceeded on our way, till eight or nine at 
night, when the canoe was moored in a place where we could 
hang up our hammocks on shore, and sleep comfortably till 
four or five in the morning. Sometimes this was varied by 
stopping for the night at six o'clock, and then we would start 
again by midnight, or by one or two in the morning. We 
would often make our stoppages at a cottage, where we could 
buy a fowl or some eggs, or a bunch of bananas or some 
oranges ; or at another time at a pretty opening in the forest, 
where some would start off with a gun, to shoot a curassow or 
a guan, and others would drop their line into the water, and 


soon have some small but delicious fish to broil. Senhor L. 
was an old hand at canoe-travelling, and was always well 
provided with hooks and lines. Bait was generally carefully 
prepared during the day, and at night the lines would be 
thrown in ; and we were often rewarded with a fine pirahiba 
of twenty or thirty pounds weight, which made us a breakfast 
and supper for the next -day. 

A little above Barra the river spreads out into great bays on 
each side, so as to be from six to ten miles wide ; and here, 
when there is much wind, a heavy sea rises, which is very 
dangerous for small canoes. Above this the river again 
narrows to about a mile and a half, and soon afterwards 
branches out into diverging channels, with islands of every 
size between them. For several hundred miles after this the 
two banks of the river can never be seen at once : they are 
probably from ten to twenty-five miles apart. Some of the 
islands are of great size, reaching to thirty or forty miles in 
length, and with others often intervening between them and 
the shore. 

On the second and third day after we left Barra, there were 
high, picturesque, gravelly banks to the river. A little further 
on, a few isolated rocks appear, and at the little village of 
Ayrao, which we reached in a week, there were broken ledges 
of sandstone rock of rather a crystalline texture. A little 
lower we had passed points of a soft sandstone, worn into 
caves and fantastic hollows by the action of the water. 
Further on, at Pedreiro, the rock was perfectly crystalline; 
while a little further still, at the mouth of the Rio Branco, a 
real granitic rock appears. 

At Pedreiro we stayed for the night with a friend of Senhor 
L.'s, where the news of the city was discussed, and the prices 
of fish, salsaparilha, piassaba, etc., communicated. The next 
day we passed some picturesque granite rocks opposite the 
mouth of the Rio Branco, where again the two shores of the 
river are seen at one view. On a little island there are some 
curious Indian picture-writings, being representations of 
numerous animals and men, roughly picked out of the hard 
granite. I made careful drawings of these at the time, and 
took specimens of the rock. 

The next day we reached Carvoeiro, a village desolate and 
half deserted, as are all those on the Rio Negro. We found 

136 TRAVELS ON THE RlO NEGRO. \Seftemba\ 

only two families inhabiting it, a blacksmith, and a Brazilian, 
who bore the title of Capitao Vasconcellos, a good-humoured, 
civil man, who treated us very well the day we remained with 
him. For dinner we had turtle, with silver knives and forks, 
but our table was a mat on the ground. In the afternoon the 
Capitao got drunk with his old friend Senhor L., and then 
became very violent, and abused him as a vile, unworthy, 
skulking Portuguese villain, and used many more epithets, of 
which the language has a copious store. Senhor L., who 
prides himself on never getting intoxicated, took it very coolly, 
and the next morning the Capitao expressed his heartfelt 
contrition, vowed eternal friendship, and regretted much that 
he should have given the " estrangeiro " so much reason to 
think ill of his countrymen. 

Proceeding on our journey, we entered on a labyrinth of 
small islands, so flooded that they appeared like masses of 
bushes growing out of the water. Though Senhor L. is well 
acquainted with the river, we here almost lost our w T ay, and 
met another canoe which had quite done so. As it was late, 
we stayed at a point of dry land for the night, and hung our 
hammocks under the trees. The next day we called at the 
house of a man who owed Senhor L. some money, and who 
paid him in turtles, eight or nine of which we embarked. 

The two shores of the river had only been seen for a 
moment. Again we plunged into a sea of islands, and channels 
opening among them often stretched out to the horizon. Some- 
times a distant shore continued for days unbroken, but was at 
last found to be but a far-stretching island. All was now again 
alluvial soil, and we sometimes had a difficulty in finding dry 
land to cook our meals on. In a few days more we reached 
Barcellos, once the capital of the Rio Negro, but now depopu- 
lated and almost deserted. On the shore lie several blocks of 
marble, brought from Portugal for some public buildings which 
were never erected. The lines of the old streets are now 
paths through a jungle, where orange and other fruit-trees are 
mingled with cassias and tall tropical weeds. The houses that 
remain are mostly ruinous mud-huts, with here and there one 
more neatly finished and white-washed. 

We called on an old Italian, who has the reputation of being 
rich, but a great miser. He was, however, merry enough. He 
gave us coffee sweetened with molasses, and pressed us to stay 











1850.] BARCELLOS. I37 

breakfast with him, which meal was served in an old store- 
house filled with cables, anchors, cordage, casks, and demi- 
johns. We had silver forks and spoons, and a dirty towel for 
a tablecloth, and raw spirits and tough curassow-bird was the 
fare placed upon it. He, however, gave us a basket of oranges 
to take to the canoe. 

In a day or two more we passed another decayed village, 
called Cabuqueno. About Barcellos had first appeared a very 
pretty little palm growing at the water's edge, a new species of 
Mauritia, which was afterwards abundant all the way up. Fish 
were now more plentiful than in the lower part of the river, 
and several species occurred not found below. Senhor L. 
often sent two men in a small canoe to fish early in the morn- 
ing, and they would by ten o'clock generally come up with 
sufficient for our breakfast and supper. I began now to take 
a great interest in the beauty and variety of the species, and, 
whenever I could, made accurate drawings and descriptions of 
them. Many are of a most excellent flavour, surpassing any- 
thing I have tasted in England, either from the fresh or the 
salt waters ; and many species have real fat, which renders the 
water they are boiled in a rich and agreeable broth. Not a 
drop of this is wasted, but, with a little pepper and farinha, is 
all consumed, with as much relish as if it were the most 
delicate soup. Our tolda was pretty hot during the day, 
generally being from 95 to ioo inside. Early in the morning 
the temperature w r as about 75 , the water at the same time 
being 85 and feeling quite warm ; at noon or in the afternoon 
the water would be about 86, and then feel delightfully cool 
from its contrast with the heated air. 

We had altogether very fine weather ; but every afternoon, 
or at least four or five times in a week, we had a " trovoa'do," 
or storm, which came on suddenly, with violent gusts of wind, 
and often thunder and rain, but passed over in about an hour 
or two, leaving the atmosphere beautifully mild and clear. A 
great luxury of this river is the absence of mosquitoes. Sunset, 
instead of being the signal for discomfort and annoyance, 
brought us the pleasantest part of the day. We could sit on 
the top of the tolda, enjoying the cool evening breeze, and 
sipping a cup of coffee our greatest luxury till the glories of 
sunset faded rapidly away and the stars shone brightly out 
above us. At this quiet hour the goat-suckers came out to 

133 TRAVELS ON THE RIO NEGRO. [September, 

hunt their insect prey over the stream, and amused us with 
their rapid evolutions ; the tree-frogs commenced their mournful 
chants, a few lingering parrots would cross the river to their 
nests, and the guarhibas fill the air with their howling voices. 
When at length the dews of evening fell thick upon us, I would 
turn in beneath the tolda, while Senhor L., wrapping himself 
in a sheet, preferred taking his repose outside. 

On September 30th, just a month after we had left Barra, 
we again saw the opposite side of the river, and crossed over 
where it is about four miles wide. The next day we reached 
a part where the granitic rocks commence, and I was delighted 
to step out of the canoe on to a fine sloping table of granite, 
with quartz-veins running across it in various directions. From 
this point the river became more picturesque. Small rocky 
islands abounded, and fine granite beaches were frequent, offer- 
ing delightful places to take our picnic meals. Fish too 
became yet more abundant, and we were seldom without this 

On the 3rd of October we reached a sitio, where resided a 
half-breed Brazilian named Joao Cordeiro (John Lamb), who 
was a friend of Senhor L. as well as a customer. We stayed 
here two days, while a good part of the cargo of the canoe was 
taken out for Senhor Joao to choose what he liked best. 
Here, for the second time since we left Barra, we saw a few 
cows, and had milk to our coffee. I amused myself by walking 
in the forest and catching some insects, of which I found many 
new species. At length, the gay cottons and gauzes, the beads 
and cutlery, wines and spirits, sugar and butter, having been 
selected, we went on our way, Senhor Joao promising to get 
plenty of piassaba, salsa, and other products, ready to pay 
Senhor L. by the time he next sent to the city. 

The following day we reached St. Isabel, a miserable village 
overgrown with weeds and thickets, and having at this time but 
a single inhabitant, a Portuguese, with whom we took a cup of 
coffee, sweetening it, however, with our own sugar, as he had no 
such luxury. He was one of the many decent sort of men 
who drag on a miserable existence here, putting up with hard- 
ships and deprivations which in a civilised community would 
be only the result of the most utter poverty. 

On the 8th we reached Castanheiro, and stayed a day with 
another Portuguese, one of the richest traders on the river. 












He owed his wealth principally to having steadily refused to 
take goods on credit, which is the curse of this country : he 
thus was always his own master, instead of being the slave of 
the Barra and Para merchants, and could buy in the cheapest 
and sell in the dearest market. With economy and a character 
for closeness, he had accumulated some five or six thousand 
pounds, which went on rapidly increasing, as in this country 
living costs a man nothing, unless he drinks or gambles. He 
trades with the Indians, takes the product in his own canoe to 
Para, buys the articles he knows are most saleable, and gets a 
profit of about a hundred per cent, on all the business he does. 
It may give some insight into the state of this country to know 
that, though this man is distinguished from almost all other 
traders by his strict integrity and fairness, which all allow, yet 
he is seldom spoken well of, because he does not enter into 
the extravagance and debauchery which it is thought he can 
well afford. 

A little further on we passed some more curious Indian 
picture-writings on a granite rock, of which I took a sketch. 
On the nth we reached Wanawaca, the seat of a Brazilian 
from Pernambuco, banished to the Rio Negro for joining in 
some insurrection. I had heard the most horrible stories of 
this man's crimes. He had murdered the Indians, carried 
away their wives and daughters, and committed barbarities 
that are too disgusting to mention. Yet, as I had a letter 
of introduction to him, and he was a friend of Senhor L., we 
went to call upon him. I found him a mild, quiet, polite, 
white-haired old gentleman, who received us with great civility, 
gave us a very good breakfast, and conversed in an unusually 
rational manner. When we had gone, Senhor L. asked me 
if I was not surprised to see such a mild-looking man. " But," 
said he, " these soft-spoken ones are always the worst. He is 
a regular hypocrite, and he will stick at nothing. Among his 
friends he will boast of his crimes, and he declares there is 
nothing that he will not do for his own pleasure or profit." 

The next day we stayed at another village, Sao Joze, where 
we were to leave our little vessel, and proceed in two smaller 
ones, as the stream was now so rapid that we could not make 
much way, and the Falls a little higher up were quite impass- 
able for our larger canoe. Here we stayed two days, unloading 
and loading. I found plenty to do capturing the butterflies, 


several rare species of which were abundant on the hot rocks 
by the river's side. At length all was right, and we proceeded 
on our way in two heavily-laden canoes, and rather cramped 
for room compared to what we had been before. We had 
several little rapids to pass, round projecting points of rock, 
where the Indians had to jump into the water and push the 
canoe past the difficulty. In two days more we reached the 
village of Sao Pedro, where Senhor L. borrowed another canoe, 
much better and more convenient, so that we had again half 
a day's delay. The owner was a young Brazilian trader, a very 
hospitable and civil fellow, with whom we spent a pleasant 
evening. He and Senhor L. were old cronies, and began 
talking in a language I could not understand, though I knew 
it was some kind of Portuguese. I soon, however, found out 
what it was, and Senhor L. afterwards told me that he had 
learnt it when a boy at school. It consisted in adding to 
every syllable another, rhyming with it, but beginning with 
p ; thus to say, " Venha ca " (come here), he would say, 
" Venpenhapa capa," or if in English " Comepum herepere;" 
and this, when spoken rapidly, is quite unintelligible to a 
person not used to it. This Senhor was a bit of a musician, 
and amused us with some simple tunes on the guitar, almost 
the only instrument used in this part of the country. 

Leaving this place, we passed the mouth of the small river 
Curicuriari, from which we had a fine view of the Serras of the 
same name. These are the finest mountains I had yet seen, 
being irregular conical masses of granite about three thousand 
feet high. They are much jagged and peaked, clothed with 
forest in all the sloping parts, but with numerous bare pre- 
cipices, on which shine huge white veins and masses of quartz, 
putting me in mind of what must be the appearance of the 
snow-capped Andes. Lower down, near St. Isabel, we had 
passed several conical peaks, but none more than a thousand 
feet high : these all rise abruptly from a perfectly level plain, 
and are not part of any connected range of hills. 

On the same day, the 19th of October, we reached the 
celebrated Falls of the Rio Negro. Small rocky islands and 
masses of bare rock now began to fill the river in every part. 
The stream flowed rapidly round projecting points, and the 
main channel was full of foam and eddies. We soon arrived 
at the commencement of the actual rapids. Beds and ledges 

1850.] THE FALLS. 141 

of rock spread all across the river, while through the openings 
between them the water rushed with terrific violence, forming 
dangerous whirlpools and breakers below. Here it was neces- 
sary to cross to the other side, in order to get up. We dashed 
into the current, were rapidly carried down, got among the 
boiling waves, then passed suddenly into still water under 
shelter of an island; whence starting again, we at length 
reached the other side, about a mile across. Here we found 
ourselves at the foot of a great rush of water, and we all got 
out upon the rocks, while the Indians, with a strong rope, 
partly in the water, and partly on land, pulled the canoe up, 
and we again proceeded. As we went on we constantly 
encountered fresh difficulties. Sometimes we had to cross 
into the middle of the stream, to avoid some impassable mass 
of rocks ; at others, the canoe was dragged and pushed in 
narrow channels, which hardly allowed'it to pass. The Indians, 
all naked, with their trousers tied round their loins, plunged 
about in the water like fishes. Sometimes a projecting crag 
had to be reached with the tow-rope. An Indian takes it in 
his hand, and leaps into the rapid current : he is carried down 
by its irresistible force. Now he dives to the bottom, and 
there swims and crawls along where the stream has less 
power. After two or three trials he reaches the rock, and tries 
to mount upon it ; but it rises high and abruptly out of the 
water, and after several efforts he falls back exhausted, and 
floats down again to the canoe amid the mirth and laughter 
of his comrades. Another now tries, with the same result. 
Then another plunges in without the rope, and thus unen- 
cumbered mounts on the rock and gives a helping hand to his 
companion ; and then all go to work, and we are pulled up past 
the obstacle. 

But a little ahead of us is an extensive mass of rocks. There 
is no passage for the canoe, and we must cross to yonder islet 
far in the middle of the stream, where, by the height of the 
water, Senhor L. and the pilot judge we shall find a passage. 
Every stone, even those under water, form eddies or returning 
currents, where a canoe can rest in its passage. Off we go, to 
try to reach one of them. In a moment we are in a stream 
running like a mill-race. " Pull away, boys ! " shouts Senhor 
L. We are falling swiftly down the river. There is a strong 
rapid carrying us, and we shall be dashed against those black 


masses just rising above the foaming waters. "All right, 
boys ! " cries Senhor L. ; and just as we seemed in the greatest 
danger, the canoe wheels round in an eddy, and we are safe 
under the shelter of a rock. We are in still water, but -close 
on each side of us it rages and bubbles, and we must cross 
again. Now the Indians are rested ; and so off we go, down 
drops the canoe, again the men strain at their paddles, 
again we are close on some foaming breakers : I see no escape, 
but in a moment we are in an eddy caused by a sunken mass 
above us; again we go on, and reach at length our object, a 
rocky island, round which we pull and push our canoe, and 
from the upper point cross to another, and so make a zigzag 
course, until, after some hours' hard work, we at length reach 
the bank, perhaps not fifty yards above the obstacle which had 
obliged us to leave it. 

Thus we proceeded, till, reaching a good resting-place about 
five in the afternoon, we stayed for the night to rest the Indians 
well, against the further fatigues to be encountered the follow- 
ing day. 

Most of the principal rapids and falls have names. There 
are the " Furnos " (ovens), "Tabocal" (bamboo), and many 
.others. The next day we went on in a similar manner to the 
day before, along a most picturesque part of the river. The 
brilliant sun, the sparkling waters, the strange fantastic rocks, 
and broken woody islands, were a constant source of interest 
and enjoyment to me. Early in the afternoon we reached the 
village of Sao Gabriel, where are the principal falls. Here the 
river is narrower, and an island in the middle divides it into 
two channels, along each of which rolls a tremendous flood of 
water down an incline formed by submerged rocks. Below, 
the water boils up in great rolling breakers, and, a little further 
down, forms dangerous eddies and whirlpools. Here we could 
only pass by unloading the canoe almost entirely, and then 
pulling it up amidst the foaming water as near as possible to 
the shore. This done, Senhor L. and myself dressed, and 
proceeded up the hill to the house of the Commandante, who 
must give permission before any one can pass above the fort. 
He was a friend of Senhor L., and I brought him a letter of 
introduction ; so he was pretty civil, gave us some coffee, 
chatted of the news of the river and the city for an hour or 
two, and invited us to breakfast with him before we left the 


next morning. We then went to the house of an old Por- 
tuguese trader, whom I had met in Barra, with whom we 
supped and spent the evening. 

The next morning, after breakfasting with the Commandante, 
we proceeded on our way. Above Sao Gabriel the rapids are 
perhaps more numerous than below. We twisted about the 
river, round islands and from rock to rock, in a most complicated 
manner. On a point where we stayed for the night I saw the 
first tree-fern I had yet met with, and looked on it with much 
pleasure, as an introduction to a new and interesting district : 
it was a small, thin-stemmed, elegant species, about eight or 
ten feet high. At night, on the 22nd, we passed the last rapid, 
and now had smooth water before us for the rest of our journey. 
We had thus been four days ascending these rapids, which are 
about thirty milts', in length. The next morning we entered 
the great and unknown river "Uaupes," from which there is 
another branch into the Rio Negro, forming a delta at its 
mouth. During our voyage I had heard much of this river 
from Senhor L., who was an old trader up it, and well acquainted 
with the numerous tribes of uncivilised Indians which inhabit 
its banks, and with the countless cataracts and rapids which 
render its navigation so dangerous and toilsome. Above the 
Uaupes the Rio Negro was calm and placid, about a mile, or 
sometimes two to three miles wide, and its waters blacker 
than ever. 

On the 24th of October, early in the morning, we reached 
the little village of Nossa Senhora da Guia, where Senhor L. 
resided, and where he invited me to remain with him as long 
as I felt disposed. 

The village is situated on high ground sloping down suddenly 
to the river. It consists of a row of thatched mud-huts, some 
of them whitewashed, others the colour of the native earth. 
Immediately behind are some patches of low sandy ground, 
covered with a shrubby vegetation, and beyond is the virgin 
forest. Senhor L.'s house had wooden doors, and shutters to 
the windows, as had also one or two others. In fact, Guia was 
once a very populous and decent village, though now as poor 
and miserable as all the others of the Rio Negro. Going up 
to the house I was introduced to Senhor L.'s family, which 
consisted of two grown-up daughters, two young ones, and a 
little boy of eight years old. A good-looking " mamehica," or 


half-breed woman, of about thirty, was introduced as the 
" mother of his younger children." Senhor L. had informed 
me during the voyage that he did not patronise marriage, and 
thought everybody a great fool who did. He had illustrated 
the advantages of keeping oneself free of such ties by informing 
me that the mother of his two elder daughters having grown 
old, and being unable to bring them up properly or teach them 
Portuguese, he had turned her out of doors, and got a younger 
and more civilised person in her place. The poor woman had 
since died of jealousy, or " passion," as he termed it. When 
young, she had nursed him during an eighteen months' illness 
and saved, his life ; but he seemed to think he had performed 
a duty in turning her away, for, said he, " She was an Indian, 
and could only speak her own language, and, so long as she 
was with them, my children would never learn Portuguese." 

The whole family welcomed him in a very cold and timid 
manner, coming up and asking his blessing as if they had 
parted from him the evening before, instead of three months 
since. We then had some coffee and breakfast ; after which 
the canoe was unloaded, and a little house just opposite his, 
which happened to be unoccupied, was swept out for me. My 
boxes were placed in it, my hammock hung up, and I soon 
made myself comfortable in my new quarters, and then walked 
out to look about me. 

In the village were about a dozen houses belonging to Indians, 
all of whom had their sitios, or country-houses, at from a few 
hours' to some days' distance up or down the river, or on some 
of the small tributary streams. They only inhabit the village 
at times of festas, or on the arrival of a merchant like Senhor 
L., when they bring any produce they may have to dispose of 
or, if they have none, get what goods they can on credit, with 
the promise of payment at some future time. 

There were now several families in the village to welcome 
their sons and husbands, who had formed our crew ; and for some 
days there was a general drinking and dancing from morning 
to night. During this time, I took my gun into the woods, in 
order to kill a few birds. Immediately behind the house were 
some fruit-trees, to which many chatterers and other pretty 
birds resorted, and I managed to shoot some every day. 
Insects were very scarce in the forest ; but on the river-side 
there were often to be found rare butterflies, though not in 


sufficient abundance to give me much occupation. In a few 
days, Senhor L. got a couple of Indians to come and hunt for 
me, and I hoped then to have plenty of birds. They used the 
gravatana, or blow-pipe, a tube ten to fifteen feet in length, 
through which they blow small arrows with such force and 
precision, that they will kill birds or other game as far off, and 
with as much certainty, as with a gun. The arrows are all 
poisoned, so that a very small wound is sufficient to bring 
down a large bird. I soon found that my Indians had come at 
Senhor L.'s bidding, but did not much like their task ; and they 
frequently returned without any birds, telling me they could 
not find any, when I had very good reason to believe they had 
spent the day at some neighbouring sitio. At other times, 
after a day in the forest, they would bring a little worthless 
bird, which can .be found around every cottage. As they had 
to go a great distance in search of good birds, I had no hold 
upon them, and was obliged to take what they brought me, and 
be contented. It was a great annoyance here, that there were 
no good paths in the forest, so that I could not go far myself, 
and in the immediate vicinity of the village there is little to be 

I found it more easy to procure fishes, and was much pleased 
by being frequently able to add to my collection of drawings. 
The smaller species I also preserved in spirits. The electrical 
eel is common in all the streams here; it is caught with a 
hook, or in weirs, and is eaten, though not much esteemed. 
When the water gets low, and leaves pools among the rocks, 
many fish are caught by poisoning the waters with a root called 
" timbo." The mouths of the small streams are also staked 
across, and large quantities of all kinds are obtained. The 
fish thus caught are very good when fresh, but putrefy sooner 
than those caught in weirs or hooked. 

Not being able to do much here, I determined to take a 
trip up a small stream to a place where, on a lonely granite 
mountain, the "Cocks of the Rock" are found. An Indian, 
who could speak a little Portuguese, having come from a 
village near it, I agreed to return with him. Senhor L. lent 
me a small canoe ; and my two hunters, one of whom lived 
there, accompanied me. I took with me plenty of ammunition, 
a great box for my birds, some salt, hooks, mirrors, knives, etc., 
for the Indians, and left Guia early one morning. Just 



below the village we turned into the river Isanna, a fine 
stream, about half a mile wide, and in the afternoon reached 
the mouth of the small river Cobati (fish), on the south side, 
which we entered. We had hitherto seen the banks clothed 
with thick virgin forest, and here and there were some low 
hills covered entirely with lofty trees. Now the country became 
very bushy and scrubby ; in parts sandy and almost open ; 
perfectly flat, and apparently inundated at the high floods. 
The water was of a more inky blackness ; and the little stream, 
not more than fifty yards wide, flowed with a rapid current, 
and turned and doubled in a manner that made our progress 
both difficult and tedious. At night we stopped at a little 
piece of open sandy ground, where we drove stakes in the 
earth to hang our hammocks. The next morning at daybreak 
we continued our journey. The whole day long we wound 
about, the stream keeping up exactly the same bleak character 
as before ; not a tree of any size visible, and the vegetation of 
a most monotonous and dreary character, At night we stayed 
near a lake, where the Indians caught some fine fish, and we 
made a good supper. The next day we wound about more 
than ever; often, after an hour's hard rowing, returning 
to within fifty yards of a point we had started from. At 
length, however, early in the afternoon, the aspect of the 
country suddenly changed ; lofty trees sprang up on the 
banks, the characteristic creepers hung in festoons over them ; 
moss-covered rocks appeared ; and from the river gradually 
rose up a slope of luxuriant virgin forest, whose varied shades 
of green and glistening foliage were most grateful to the eye 
and the imagination, after the dull, monotonous vegetation of 
the previous days. 

In half an hour more we were at the village, which consisted 
of five or six miserable little huts imbedded in the forest. 
Here I was introduced to my conductor's house. It contained 
two rooms, with a floor of earth, and smoky thatch overhead. 
There were three doors, but no windows. Near one of these I 
placed my bird-box, to serve as a table, and on the other side 
swung my hammock. We then took a little walk to look 
about us. Paths led to the different cottages, in which were 
large families of naked children, and their almost naked 
parents. Most of the houses had no walls, but were mere 
thatched sheds supported on posts, and with sometimes a small 


room enclosed with a palm-leaf fence, to make a sleeping 
apartment. There were several young boys here of from ten 
to fifteen years of age, who were my constant attendants when 
I went into the forest. None of them could speak a single 
word of Portuguese, so I had to make use of my slender stock 
of Lingoa Geral. But Indian boys are not great talkers, and 
a few monosyllables would generally suffice for our communi- 
cations. One or two of them had blow-pipes, and shot 
numbers of small birds for me, while others would creep along 
by my side and silently point out birds, or small animals, before 
I could catch sight of them. When I fired, and, as was often 
the case, the bird flew away wounded, and then fell far off in 
the forest, they would bound away after it, and seldom search 
in vain. Even a little humming-bird, falling in a dense thicket 
of creepers and dead leaves, which I should have given up 
looking for in despair, was always found by them. 

One day I accompanied the Indian with whom I lived into 
the forest, to get stems for a blow-pipe. We went, about a 
mile off, to a place where numerous small palms were growing : 
they were the Iriartea setigera of Martius, from ten to fifteen 
feet high, and varying from the thickness of one's finger to two 
inches in diameter. They appear jointed outside, from the 
scars of the fallen leaves, but within have a soft pith, which, 
when cleared out, leaves a smooth, polished bore. My com- 
panion selected several of the straightest he could find, both 
of the smallest and largest diameter. These stems were 
carefully dried in the house, the pith cleared out with a long 
rod made of the wood of another palm, and the bore rubbed 
clean and polished with a little bunch of roots of a tree-fern, 
pulled backwards and forwards through it. Two stems are 
selected of such a size, that the smaller can be pushed inside 
the larger; this is done, so that any curve in the one may 
counteract that in the other ; a conical wooden mouthpiece is 
then fitted on to one end, and sometimes the whole is spirally 
bound with the smooth, black, shining bark of a creeper. 
Arrows are made of the spinous processes of the Patawa 
(CEnocarpus Batawa) pointed, and anointed with poison, and 
with a little conical tuft of tree cotton (the silky covering of 
the seeds of a Bombax) at the other end, to fill up exactly, but 
not tightly, the bore of the tube : these arrows are carried in 
a wicker quiver, well covered with pitch at the lower part, so 


that it can be inverted in wet weather to keep the arrows dry. 
The blow-pipe, or gravatana, is the principal weapon here. 
Every Indian has one, and seldom goes into the forest, or on 
the rivers, without it. 

I soon found that the Cocks of the Rock, to obtain which 
was my chief object in coming here, were not to be found near 
the village. Their principal resort was the Serra de Cobati, 
or mountain before mentioned, situated some ten or twelve 
miles off in the forest, where I was informed they were very 
abundant. I accordingly made arrangements for a trip to the 
Serra, with the intention of staying there a week. By the 
promise of good payment for every " Gallo " they killed for 
me, I persuaded almost the whole male population of the 
village to accompany me. As our path was through a dense 
forest for ten miles, we could not load ourselves with much 
baggage : every man had to carry his gravatana, bow and 
arrows, rede, and some farinha ; which, with salt, was all the 
provisions we took, trusting to the forest for our meat ; and I 
even gave up my daily and only luxury of coffee. 

We started off, thirteen in number, along a tolerable path. 
In about an hour we came to a mandiocca-field and a house, 
the last on the road to the Serra. Here we waited a short 
time, took some " mingau," or gruel, made of green plantains, 
and got a volunteer to join our company. I was much struck 
with an old woman whose whole body was one mass of close 
deep wrinkles, and whose hair was white, a sure sign of very 
great age in an Indian ; from information I obtained, I believe 
she was more than a hundred years old. There was also a 
young " mameluca," very fair and handsome, and of a particu- 
larly intelligent expression of countenance, very rarely seen in 
that mixed race. The moment I saw her I had little doubt of 
her being a person of whom I had heard Senhor L. speak 
as the daughter of the celebrated German naturalist, Dr. 
Natterer, by an Indian woman. I afterwards saw her at Gufa, 
and ascertained that my supposition was correct. She was 
about seventeen years of age, was married to an Indian, and 
had several children. She was a fine specimen of the noble 
race produced by the mixture of the Saxon and Indian blood. 

Proceeding onwards, w r e came to another recently-cleared 
mandiocca-field. Here the path was quite obliterated, and we 
had to cross over it as we could. Imagine the trees of a virgin 


forest cut down so as to fall across each other in every 
conceivable direction. After lying a few months they are 
burnt; the fire, however, only consumes the leaves and fine 
twigs and branches ; all the rest remains entire, but blackened 
and charred. The mandiocca is then planted without any 
further preparation ; and it was across such a field that we, all 
heavily laden, had to find our way. Now climbing on the 
top of some huge trunk, now walking over a shaking branch 
or creeping among a confused thicket of charcoal, few journeys 
require more equanimity of temper than one across an 
Amazonian clearing. 

Passing this, we got into the forest. At first the path was 
tolerable ; soon, however, it was a mere track a few inches 
wide, winding among thorny creepers, and over deep beds of 
decaying leaves; Gigantic buttress trees, tall fluted stems, 
strange palms, and elegant tree-ferns were abundant on every 
side, and many persons may suppose that our walk must 
necessarily have been a delightful one ; but there were many 
disagreeables. Hard roots rose up in ridges along our path, 
swamp and mud alternated with quartz pebbles and rotten 
leaves ; and as I floundered along in the barefooted enjoyment 
of these, some overhanging bough would knock the cap from 
my head or the gun from my hand ; or the hooked spines 
of the climbing palms would catch in my shirt-sleeves, and 
oblige me either to halt and deliberately unhook myself, or 
leave a portion of my unlucky garment behind. The Indians 
were all naked, or, if they had a shirt or trousers, carried them 
in a bundle on their heads, and I have no doubt looked upon 
me as a good illustration of the uselessness and bad conse- 
quences of wearing clothes upon a forest journey. 

After four or five hours' hard walking, at a pace which would 
not have been bad upon clear level ground, we came to a 
small stream of clear water, which had its source in the Serra 
to which we were going. Here we waited a few moments to 
rest and drink, while doing which we heard a strange rush and 
distant grunt in the forest. The Indians started up, all 
excitement and animation : "Tyeassu ! " (wild hogs) they cried, 
seizing their bows and arrows, tightening the strings, and 
grasping their long knives. I cocked my gun, dropped in a 
bullet, and hoped to get a shot at a "porco;" but being afraid, 
if I went with them, of losing myself in the forest, I waited with 


the boys in hopes the game would pass near me. After a 
little time we heard a rushing and fearful gnashing of teeth, 
which made me stand anxiously expecting the animals to 
appear ; but the sound went further off, and died away at 
length in the distance. 

The party now appeared, and said that there was a large 
herd of fine pigs, but that they had got away. They, however, 
directed the boys to go on with me to the Serra, and they 
would go again after the herd. "We went on accordingly over 
very rough, uneven ground, now climbing up steep ascents 
over rotting trunks of fallen trees, now descending into gullies, 
till at length we reached a curious rock a huge table twenty 
or thirty feet in diameter, supported on two points only, and 
forming an excellent cave ; round the outer edge we could 
stand upright under it, but towards the centre the r roof was so 
low that one could only lie down. The top of this singular 
rock was nearly flat, and completely covered with forest-trees, 
and it at first seemed as if their weight must overbalance it 
from its two small supports ; but the roots of the trees, not 
finding nourishment enough from the little earth on the top of 
the rock, ran along it to the edge, and there dropped down 
vertically and penetrated among the broken fragments below, 
thus forming a series of columns of various sizes supporting 
the table all round its outer edge. Here, the boys said, was 
to be our abode during our stay, though I did not perceive 
any water near it. Through the trees we could see the moun- 
tain a quarter or half a mile from us, a bare, perpendicular 
mass of granite, rising abruptly from the forest to a height of 
several hundred feet. 

We had hung up our redes and waited about half an hour, 
when three Indians of our party made their appearance, 
staggering under the weight of a fine hog they had killed, and 
had slung on a strong pole. I then found the boys had 
mistaken our station, which was some distance further on, at 
the very foot of the Serra, and close to a running stream of 
water, where was a large roomy cave formed by an immense 
overhanging rock. Over our heads was growing a forest, and 
the roots again hung down over the edge, forming a sort of 
screen to our cave, and the stronger ones serving for posts to 
hang our redes. Our luggage was soon unpacked, our redes 
hung, a fire lighted, and the pig taken down to the brook, 

1850.] "COCKS OF THE ROCK." 151 

which ran at the lower end of the cave, to be skinned and 
prepared for cooking. 

The animal was very like a domestic pig, but with a higher 
back, coarser and longer bristles, and a most penetrating 
odour. This I found proceeded from a gland situated on the 
back, about six inches above the root of the tail : it was a 
swelling, with a large pore in the centre, from which exuded 
an oily matter, producing a most intense and unbearable pig- 
sty smell, of which the domestic animal can convey but a faint 
idea. The first operation of the Indians was to cut out this 
part completely, and the skin and flesh for some inches all 
round it, and throw the piece away. If this were not done, they 
say, the " pitiii " (catinga, Port.), or bad smell, would render all 
the meat uneatable. The animal was then skinned, cut up into 
pieces, some of which were put into an earthen pot to stew, 
while the legs and shoulders were kept to smoke over the fire 
till they wore thoroughly dry, as they can thus be preserved 
several weeks without salt. 

The greater number of the party had not yet arrived, so we 
ate our suppers, expecting to see them soon after sunset. 
However, as they did not appear, we made up our fires, put 
the meat on the " moqueen," or smoking stage, and turned 
comfortably into our redes. The next morning, while we were 
preparing breakfast, they all arrived, with the produce of their 
hunting expedition. They had killed three hogs, but as it was 
late and they were a long way off, they encamped for the night, 
cut up the animals, and partially smoked all the prime pieces, 
which they now brought with them carefully packed up in palm- 
leaves. The party had no bows and arrows, but had killed the 
game with their blow-pipes, and little poisoned arrows about 
ten inches long. 

After breakfast was over we prepared for an attack upon the 
"Gallos." We divided into three parties, going in different 
directions. The party which I accompanied went to ascend 
the Serra itself as far as practicable. We started out at the 
back of our cave, which was, as I have stated, formed by the 
base of the mountain itself. We immediately commenced the 
ascent up rocky gorges, over huge fragments, and through 
gloomy caverns, all mixed together in the most extraordinary 
confusion. Sometimes we had to climb up precipices by roots 
and creepers, then to crawl over a surface formed by angular 


rocks, varying from the size of a wheelbarrow to that of a 
house. I could not have imagined that what at a distance 
appeared so insignificant, could have presented such a gigantic 
and rugged scene. All the time we kept a sharp look-out, but 
saw no birds. At length, however, an old Indian caught hold 
of my arm, and whispering gently, " Gallo ! " pointed into a 
dense thicket. After looking intently a little while, I caught 
a glimpse of the magnificent bird sitting amidst the gloom, 
shining out like a mass of brilliant flame. I took a step to get 
a clear view of it, and raised my gun, when it took alarm and 
flew off before I had time to fire. We followed, and soon it 
was again pointed out to me. This time I had better luck, 
fired with a steady aim, and brought it down. The Indians 
rushed forward, but it had fallen into a deep gully between 
steep rocks, and a considerable circuit had to be made to get 
it. In a few minutes, however, it was brought to me, and I 
was lost in admiration of the dazzling brilliancy of its soft 
downy feathers. Not a spot of blood was visible, not a feather 
was ruffled, and the soft, warm, flexible body set off the fresh 
swelling plumage in a manner which no stuffed specimen can 
approach. After some time, not finding any more gallos, most 
of the party set off on an excursion up a more impracticable 
portion of the rock, leaving two boys with me till they returned. 
We soon got tired of waiting, and as the boys made me under- 
stand that they knew the path back to our cave, I determined 
to return. We descended deep chasms in the rocks, climbed 
up steep precipices, descended again and again, and passed 
through caverns with huge masses of rocks piled above our 
heads. Still we seemed not to get out of the mountain, but 
fresh ridges rose before us, and more fearful fissures were to 
be passed. We toiled on, now climbing by roots and creepers 
up perpendicular walls, now creeping along a narrow ledge, 
with a yawning chasm on each side of us. I could not have 
imagined such serrated rocks to exist. It appeared as if a 
steep mountain-side had been cut and hacked by some gigantic 
force into fissures and ravines, from fifty to a hundred feet 
deep. My gun was a most inconvenient load when climbing 
up these steep and slippery places, and I did it much damage 
by striking its muzzle against the hard granite rock. At length 
we appeared to have got into the very heart of the mountain : 
no outlet was visible, and through the dense forest and matted 




underwood, with which every part of these rocks were covered, 
we could only see an interminable succession of ridges, and 
chasms, and gigantic blocks of stone, with no visible termina- 
tion. As it was evident the boys had lost their way, I resolved 
to turn back. It was a weary task. I was already fatigued 
enough, and the prospect of another climb over these fearful 
ridges, and hazardous descent into those gloomy chasms, was 
by no means agreeable. However, we persevered, one boy 
taking my gun ; and after about an hour's hard work we got 
back to the place whence we had started, and found the rest 
of the party expecting us. We then went down by the proper 

path, which they told me was the only known way of ascending 
and descending the mountain, and by which we soon arrived 
at our cave. 

The accompanying sketch gives a section of this mountain, 
as near as I can make it out. The extraordinary jaggedness 
of the rocks is not at all exaggerated, and is the more surprising 
when you get into it, because from a distance it appears one 
smooth forest-covered hill, of very inconsiderable height, and 
of a gradual slope. Besides the great caverns and ridges 
shown above, the surfaces of each precipice are serrated in a 
most extraordinary manner, forming deep sloping gutters, cut 
out of the smooth face of the rock, or sometimes vertical 
channels, with angular edges, such as might be supposed to 


be formed were the granite in a plastic state forced up against 
hard angular masses. 

On reaching the cave I immediately skinned my prize 
before it was dark, and we then got our supper. No more 
"gallos" were brought in that day. The fires were made up, 
the pork put to smoke over them, and around mc were thirteen 
naked Indians, talking in unknown tongues. Two only could 
speak a little Portuguese, and with them I conversed, 
answering their various questions about where iron came from, 
and how calico was made, and if paper grew in my country, 
and if we had much mandiocca and plantains \ and they were 
greatly astonished to hear that all were white men there, and 
could not imagine how white men could work, or how there 
could be a country without forest. They would ask strange 
questions about where the wind came from, and the rain, and 
how the sun and moon got back to their places again after 
disappearing from us ; and when I had tried to satisfy them 
on these points, they would tell me forest tales of jaguars and 
pumas, and of the fierce wild hogs, and of the dreadful curupuri, 
the demon of the woods, and of the wild man with a long tail, 
found far in the centre of the forest. They told me also a 
curious tale about the tapir, which, however, others have assured 
me is not true. 

The tapir, they say, has a peculiar fancy for dropping his 
dung only in the water, and they never find it except in brooks 
and springs, though it is so large and abundant that it could 
not be overlooked in the forest. If there is no water to be 
found, the animal makes a rough basket of leaves and carries 
it to the nearest stream, and there deposits it. The Indians' 
tale goes, that one tapir met another in the forest with a basket 
in his mouth. " What have you in your basket ? " said the 
one. " Fruit," answered the other. " Let me have some," 
said the first. " I won't," said the other ; upon which the first 
tapir pulled the basket from the other's mouth, broke it open, 
and on seeing the contents both turned tail, quite ashamed of 
themselves, ran away in opposite directions, and never came 
near the spot again all their lives. 

With such conversation we passed the time till we fell asleep. 
We rose with the earliest dawn, for the naked Indian feels the 
chill morning air, and gets up early to renew his fire, and 
make some mingau to warm himself. Having no coffee, I had 

1 850.]* A NIGHT IN A SUED. 155 

to put up also with "mingau" (farinha gruel), and we then all 
started off again in search of game. This time I took the forest, 
having had enough of the Serra, and the two boys came with 
me for guides and companions. After wandering about a good 
way we found some fine curassow-birds high up in lofty trees, 
and succeeded in shooting one. This, with a large jacamar, 
was all we could find, so we returned to the cave, skinned the 
jacamar, and put the "mutun" (curassow-bird) on the fire for 

In the afternoon the other parties returned unsuccessful, one 
only bringing in a gallo. The next day nothing at all was met 
with, and it was therefore agreed to move our camp to a spot 
some miles off on the other side of the Serra, where was a 
feeding-place of the gallos. We accordingly started ; and if 
our former path was bad enough, this was detestable. It was 
principally through second-growth woods, which are much 
thicker than the virgin forest, full of prickly plants, entangled 
creepers, and alternations of soft mud and quartz pebbles 
under foot. As our farinha was getting low, we had sent half 
our party home, to bring such a supply as would enable us to 
remain a week in our new camp. 

On reaching the place we found a pleasant open glade and 
low woods, where there had formerly been a small Indian 
settlement. It was much more airy and agreeable than our 
cave, so closely surrounded by the tall dense forest that scarcely 
a straggling ray of sunshine could enter. Here were numerous 
trees of a species of Melastoma, bearing purple berries, of 
which the gallos and many other birds are very fond. There 
was a little shed, just large enough to hang my hammock under ; 
this we repaired and thatched, and made our head-quarters, 
where I soon established myself comfortably. We had not 
been here long before we heard the shrill cry of a gallo near 
us. All immediately started off, and I soon had the pleasure 
of again seeing this living flame darting among the foliage. 
My gun, however, had been wetted in walking so far through 
the dripping underwood, and missed fire. In the evening two 
fine birds were brought in, a very satisfactory commence- 
ment. The next evening the party who had gone to the 
village returned with farinha, salt, and a few mammee apples, 
which- were very refreshing. 

We stayed here four days longer, with various success : 


some days we had not a bird ; others, plenty of game, and 
one or two gallos. What with monkeys, guans, and mutuns, 
we had pretty good fare in the meat way. One day I went 
out alone, and by patiently watching under a fruit-tree, in a 
drenching shower, was rewarded by obtaining another beautiful 
gallo. Two were brought in alive : one of them I killed and 
skinned at once, knowing the great risk of attempting to keep 
them alive ; the other was kept by the Indian who caught it, 
but a few weeks afterwards it died. They are caught by snares 
at certain places, where the males assemble to play. These 
places are on rocks, or roots of trees, and are worn quite 
smooth and clean. Two or three males meet and perform a 
kind of dance, walking and jigging up and down. The females 
and young are never seen at these places, so that you are sure 
of catching only full-grown fine-plumaged males. I am not 
aware of any other bird that has this singular habit. On the 
last day of our stay, we were rather short of provisions. The 
Indians supped well off a young alligator they had caught in 
a brook near ; but the musky odour was so strong that I could 
not stomach it, and, after getting down a bit of the tail, finished 
my supper with mingau. 

The next day we returned home to the little village. With 
twelve hunters, nine days in the forest, I had obtained twelve 
gallos, two of which I had shot myself; I had, besides, two 
fine trogons, several little blue-capped manakins, and some 
curious barbets, and ant-thrushes. 

At the village I spent nearly a fortnight more, getting 
together a good many small birds, but nothing very rare. I 
shot a specimen of the curious bald-headed brown crow 
(Gymnocephalus catvus), which, though common in Cayenne, 
is very rare in the Rio Negro district ; nobody, in fact, but the 
Indians, had ever seen the bird, and they regarded it as my 
greatest curiosity. I also skinned a black agouti, and made 
drawings of many curious fish. 

The Padre having come to Guia, most of the Indians 
returned with me to attend the festa, and get their children 
baptized. When we arrived, however, we found that he had 
left for the villages higher up, and was to call on his return. 
I now wished to set off as soon as possible for the Upper Rio 
Negro, in Venezuela ; but of course no Indian could be got 
to go with me till the Padre returned, and I was obliged to 

1850.] FREI JOZE. 157 

wait patiently and idly at Guia. For days I would go out into 
the forest, and not get a bird worth skinning ; insects were 
equally scarce. The forest was gloomy, damp, and silent as 
death. Every other day was wet, and almost every afternoon 
there was a thunderstorm : and on these dull days and weary 
evenings, I had no resource but the oft-told tales of Senhor L., 
and the hackneyed conversation on buying and selling calico, 
on digging salsa, and cutting piassaba. 

At length, however, the Padre, Frei Joze, arrived with Senhor 
Tenente Filisberto, the Commandante of Marabitanas. Frei 
Joze dos Santos Innocentos was a tall, thin, prematurely old 
man, thoroughly worn out by every kind of debauchery, his 
hands crippled, and his body ulcerated; yet he still delighted 
in recounting the feats of his youth, and was celebrated as the 
most original and amusing story-teller in the province of Para. 
He was carried up the hill, from the river-side, in a hammock ; 
and took a couple of days to rest, before he commenced his 
ecclesiastical operations. I often went with Senhor L. to visit 
him, and was always much amused with his inexhaustible fund 
of anecdotes : he seemed to know everybody and everything 
in the Province, and had always something humorous to tell 
about them. His stories were, most of them, disgustingly 
coarse; but so cleverly told, in such quaint and expressive 
language, and with such amusing imitations of voice and 
manner, that they were irresistibly ludicrous. There is always, 
too, a particular charm in hearing good anecdotes in a foreign 
language. The point is the more interesting, from the obscure 
method of arriving at it ; and the knowledge you acquire of 
the various modes of using the peculiar idioms of the language, 
causes a pleasure quite distinct from that of the story itself. 
Frei Joze never repeated a story twice in the week he was 
with us ; and Senhor L., who has known him for years, says 
he had never before heard many of the anecdotes he now 
related. He had been a soldier, then a friar in a convent, and 
afterwards a parish priest : he told tales of his convent life, 
just like what we read in Chaucer of their doings in his time. 
Don Juan was an innocent compared with Frei Joze ; but he 
told us he had a great respect for his cloth, and never did 
anything disreputable during the day / 

At length the baptisms took place : there were some fifteen 
or twenty Indian children of all ages, to undergo the operation 

158 TRAVELS ON THE RIO NEGRO. [January, 1851. 

at once. There are seven or eight distinct processes in the 
Roman Catholic baptism, well calculated to attract the attention 
of the Indians : there is water and holy oil, and spittle rubbed 
on the eyes, and crosses on the eyes, nose, mouth, and body, 
and kneeling and prayers in between, which all bear suffi- 
cient resemblance to the complicated operations of their own 
"page's" (conjurors), to make them think they have got 
something very good, in return for the shilling they pay for 
the ceremony. 

The next day there were a few weddings, the ceremony of 
which is very like our own. After it was over, Frei Joze gave 
the newly married people a very good and practical homily 
on the duties of the married state, which might have done 
some good, had the parties to whom it was addressed under- 
stood it ; which, as it was in Portuguese, they did not. He at 
all times strenuously exhorted the Indians to get married, and 
thus save their souls, and fill his pocket. The only two 
white men, besides myself, were, however, bad examples, for 
they were not, nor would be married, though they both had 
large families ; which the Padre got over by saying, " Never 
mind what these white people do, they will all go to purgatory, 
but don't you be such fools as to go too ! " at which Senhor 
L. and the Commandante laughed heartily, and the poor 
Indians looked much astonished. 



Leave Gui'a Marabitanas Serra de Cocoi Enter Venezuela S5o 
Carlos Pass the Cassiquiare Antonio Dias Indian Shipbuilders 
Feather-work Maroa and Pimichfn A Black Jaguar Poisonous 
Serpents Fishing Walk to Javfta Residence there IndianRoad- 
makers Language and Customs A Description of Javita Run- 
away Indians Collections at Javita Return to Tomo A Domestic 
Broil Marabitanas, and its Inhabitants Reach Guia. 

When at length our visitors were gone, I commenced 
arrangements for my voyage further up the country. 

Senhor L. lent me a canoe, and I had four Indians to go 
with me, only one of whom, an old man named Augustinho, 
could speak a little broken Portuguese. I took with me my 
watch, sextant, and compass, insect- and bird-boxes, gun and 
ammunition, with salt, beads, fish-hooks, calico, and coarse 
cotton cloth for the Indians. My men all had their gravatanas 
and quivers of poisoned arrows, a pair of trousers, shirt, 
paddle, knife, tinder-box, and rede, which comprise the whole 
assortment of an Indian's baggage. 

On the 27th of January, 185 1, we left Guia, paddling up 
against the stream. The canoe had been fresh caulked, but 
still I found it leaking so much, as to keep me constantly 
baling ; and in the afternoon, when we stayed for dinner, I made 
an examination, and found out the cause of the leakage. The 
cargo was heavy and was supported on a little stage, or floor, 
resting upon cross-bearers in the bottom of the canoe ; the 
ends of these bearers had been carelessly placed just on a seam, 
so that the whole weight of the cargo tended to force out the 
plank, and thus produce the leak. I was accordingly obliged 
to unload the boat entirely, and replace the bearers in a better 
position, after which I was glad to find the leak much 


On the 28th, in the afternoon, we arrived at the little village 
of Mabe, which we reached in very good time, for the inhabit- 
ants had just returned from a fishing expedition : they had 
procured a great quantity of fish by poisoning an igaripe near, 
and I purchased enough for our supper and breakfast. I found 
several which I had not seen before; among them, a most 
curious little species allied to Centrarcus^ called the butterfly 
fish, from the extraordinary development of its fins, and pretty 
banded markings. 

On the 29th, about noon, we passed the mouth of the 
river Xie, a black-water stream of moderate size and no great 
length. There is little trade up it, and the Indians inhabiting 
it are uncivilised and almost unknown. 

On the 30th we came in sight of the Serras of the Caba- 
buris, and the long row of hills called Pirapuco (the long 
fish) : they consist of lofty and isolated granite peaks, like 
those generally found in this district. The next day we reached 
Marabitanas, the frontier fort of Brazil : there is now only the 
remnant of a mud entrenchment, and a small detachment of 
soldiers. As the Commandante w r as not there, we did not stay, 
except to purchase a few plantains. 

On the 1st of February we reached the Serra of Cocof, which 
marks the boundary between Brazil and Venezuela. This is a 
granite rock, very precipitous and forming nearly a square 
frustum of a prism, about a thousand feet high. It rises at 
once out of the forest plain, and is itself, on the summit and 
the less precipitous portions, covered with thick wood. Here 
the piums, or little biting flies, swarm and made us very 
uncomfortable for the rest of the day. We had now beautiful 
weather, and in the evening slept on a fine granite beach very 
comfortably. The next night we stayed at a rock on which we 
found some curious figures engraven below high-water mark. 
Here having a clear horizon up the river to the north, I saw 
my old friend the pole-star, though I was only in i 20' north 
latitude. We had now every day fine rocky beaches, along 
which I often walked, while young Luiz would shoot fish for 
us with his bow and arrow. He was very skilful, and always 
had his bow by his side, and as w r e approached a rock or 
shallow would fit his arrow and send it into some glittering 
acarra or bright-coloured tucunare. 

At length, on the afternoon of the 4th of February, we 

1851.] THE CASSIQUIARE. 161 

arrived at Sao Carlos, the principal Venezuelan village on the 
Rio Negro. This was the furthest point reached by Humboldt 
from an opposite direction, and I was therefore now entering 
upon ground gone over fifty years before by that illustrious 
traveller. At the landing-place I was agreeably surprised to 
see a young Portuguese I had met at Guia, and as he was 
going up the river to Tomo in a day or two, I agreed to wait 
and take him with me. I went with him to the house of the 
Commissario, got introduced, and commenced my acquaintance 
with the Spanish language. I was civilly received, and found 
myself in the midst of a party of loosely-dressed gentlemen, 
holding a conversation on things in general. I found some 
difficulty in making out anything,, both from the peculiarity of 
accent and the number of new words constantly occurring ; for 
though Spanish is very similar to Portuguese in the verbs, 
pronouns, and adjectives, the nouns are mostly different, and 
the accent and pronunciation peculiar. 

We took our meals at the Commissario's table, and with 
every meal had coffee, which custom I rather liked. The 
next day I walked into the forest along the road to Solano, 
a villageon the Cassiquiare. I found a dry, sandy soil, but 
with very few insects. The village of Sao Carlos is laid out 
with a large square, and parallel streets. The principal house, 
called the Convento, where the priests used to reside, is now 
occupied by the Commissario. The square is kept clean, the 
houses whitewashed, and altogether the village is much neater 
than those of Brazil. Every morning the bell rings for matins, 
and the young girls and boys assemble in the church and sing 
a few hymns ; the same takes place in the evening ; and on 
Sundays the church is always opened, and service performed 
by the Commissario and the Indians. 

Soon after leaving the village we passed the mouth of the 
Cassiquiare, that singular stream which connects the Rio Negro 
with the Orinooko near the sources of both. It is a mixture 
of white and black water, and swarms with piums, which are 
abundant down to Sao Carlos ; but on passing the mouth of 
the Cassiquiare they cease immediately, and up to the sources 
of the Rio Negro there is a freedom at least from this pest. 
In the evening we stayed at an Indian cottage, and bought a 
fine cabecudo, or big-headed turtle, for a basin of salt : it 
furnished us with an excellent supper for eight persons, and 


1 62 TRAVELS ON THE RIO NEGRO. [February, 

even the next day we did not finish it all. The weather was 
now hot, and brilliantly fine, contrasting much with the con- 
stant rains of Guia ; and, marvellous to relate, the people here 
told us they had not had any rain for three months past. The 
effects were seen in the river, which was very low and still 
falling, and so full of rocks and shallows as to render it some- 
times difficult for us to find a passage for our canoes. 

After passing the village of Sao Miguel these difficulties 
increased, till we came to a place where the whole channel, a 
mile wide, appeared but one bed of rocks, with nowhere water 
enough for our canoe to pass, though eighteen inches would 
have sufficed. We went wandering about over this rocky plain 
in search of some opening, and after much difficulty succeeded 
in pushing and dragging our boat over the rocks. We passed 
by two or three " Canos," or channels leading to the Cassi- 
quiare, up which many of the inhabitants were now going, to 
lay in a stock of fish and cabecudos against the " tiempo del 
faminto " (time of famine), as the wet season is called, when 
but little fish and game are to be obtained. 

On the ioth of February we reached Tomo, a village at the 
mouth of a stream of the same name. The inhabitants are all 
Indians, except one white man, a Portuguese, named Antonio 
Dias, of whom I had heard much at Barra. I found him in 
his shirt and trousers, covered with dust and perspiration, 
having just been assisting his men at their work at some canoes 
he was building. He received me kindly, with a strange 
mixture of Portuguese and Spanish, and got the "casa de 
nacao," or stranger's house, a mere dirty shed, swept out for 
my accommodation for a few days. Like most of the white 
men in this neighbourhood, he is occupied entirely in building 
large canoes and schooners for the Rio Negro and Amazon 
trade. When finished, the hulls alone are taken down to Barra 
or to Para, generally with a cargo of piassaba or farinha, and 
there sold. He had now one on the stocks, of near two 
hundred tons burden ; but most of them are from thirty to a 
hundred tons. These large vessels have to be taken down the 
cataracts of the Rio Negro, which can only be done in the wet 
season, when the water is deep. 

It seems astonishing how such large vessels can be con- 
structed by persons entirely ignorant of the principles of naval 
architecture. They are altogether made by the Indians with- 

t8sij BOAT-BUILDING. 163 

out drawing or design. During the time when Brazil and 
Venezuela were under the Portuguese and Spanish govern- 
ments, building-yards were established in several places where 
good timber was to be found, and the Indians were employed, 
under naval architects from Spain and Portugal, in the con- 
struction of vessels for the coast and inland trade. When the 
independence of these countries took place, all such establish- 
ments were broken up, and a long succession of revolutions 
and disturbances occurred. The Indians employed had, how- 
ever, learnt an art they did not forget, but taught it to their 
children and countrymen. By eye and hand alone they will 
form the framework and fit on the planks of fine little vessels 
of a hundred tons or more, with no other tools than axe, adze, 
and hammer. Many a Portuguese, who has scarcely ever seen 
a boat except during his passage to Brazil, gets together half- 
a-dozen Indians with some old Indian carpenter at their J^ead, 
buys a dozen axes and a few thousands of nails, and sets up as 
a shipbuilder. The products of the Upper Rio Negro, princi- 
pally piassaba, pitch, and farinha, are bulky, and require large 
vessels to take them down, but their value in iron and cotton 
goods can be brought up again in a very small canoe. Large 
vessels, too, cannot possibly return up the cataracts. Those 
made on the Upper Rio Negro, therefore, never return there, 
and the small traders require a new one annually. They are 
used below in the navigation of the Amazon, and of all its 
branches not obstructed by falls or rapids. The vessels are 
made very cheaply and roughly, and seldom of the best timbers, 
which are difficult to obtain in sufficient quantity. On an 
average these canoes do not last more than six or eight years, 
many not more than two or three, though there are woods 
which will stand for thirty years perfectly sound. Owing to 
these peculiar circumstances, there is a constant demand for 
these Spanish vessels, as they are called ; and the villages of 
Sao Carlos, Tiriquim, Sao Miguel, Tomo, and Maroa are 
entirely inhabited by builders of canoes. 

While I was at Tomo the village was being cleaned, by 
scraping off the turf and weeds wherever they appeared within 
the limits of the houses. The people show an instance of 
their peculiar delicacy in this work : they will not touch any 
spot on which there lies a piece of dung of a dog or any animal, 
or the body of any dead bird or reptile, but hoe carefully 

164 TRAVELS ON THE RIO NEGRO. [February', 

around it, and leave a little circular tuft of grass marking the 
spot where all such impurities exist. This is partly owing to 
a kind of superstition ; but in many other ways they show a 
dislike to touch, however remotely, any offensive animal sub- 
stance. This idea is carried so far as to lead them sometimes 
to neglect the sick in any offensive disease. It seems to be 
a kind of feeling very similar to that which exists in many 
animals, with regard to the sick and the dying. 

Senhor Antonio Bias was rather notorious, even in this 
country of loose morals, for his patriarchal propensities, his 
harem consisting of a mother and daughter and two Indian 
girls, all of whom he keeps employed at feather-work, which 
they do with great skill, Senhor Antonio himself, who has 
some taste in design, making out the patterns. The cocks of 
the rock, white herons, roseate spoonbills, golden jacamars, 
metallic trogons, and exquisite little seven-coloured tanagers, 
with many gay parrots, and other beautiful birds, offer an 
assortment of colours capable of producing the most exquisite 
effects. The work is principally applied to the borders or 
fringes of hammocks. The hammocks themselves are of finely 
netted palm-fibre string, dyed of red, yellow, green, and other 
brilliant colours. The fringes are about a foot deep, also finely 
netted, of the same material, and on these are stuck, with the 
milk of the cow-tree, sprays and stars and flowers of feather- 
work. In the best he puts in the centre the arms of Portugal 
or Brazil beautifully executed ; and the whole, on a ground of 
the snowy white heron's feathers, has a very pleasing effect. 

Senhor Antonio informed me, that, owing to the lowness 
of the water, I could not go on any further in my canoe, and must 
therefore get an Indian oba, of one piece of wood, to stand the 
scraping over the rocks up to Pimichin ; so, on the 13th, I left 
Tdmo with Senhor Antonio in his canoe, for Maroa, a village 
a few miles above, where I hoped to get an oba suited for the 
remainder of the journey. This was a large village, entirely 
inhabited by Indians, and with an Indian Commissario, who 
could read and write, and was quite fashionably dressed in patent- 
leather boots, trousers, and straps. I here got an oba, lent me 
by a Gallician trader, and took two Indians with me from the 
place to bring it back. Senhor Antonio returned to Tdmo, 
and about three p.m. I started on my journey in my little 
tottering canoe. 

1 85 1.] THE PI MIC HI N RIVER. 165 

About a mile above Maroa, we reached the entrance of the 
little river Pimichin, up which we were to ascend. At the very 
mouth was a rock filling up the channel, and we had great 
difficulty in passing. We then had deep water for some 
distance, but came again to rocks and reedy shallows, where 
our heavily-laden canoe was only got over by great exertions. At 
night we reached a fine sandy beach, where we stayed, but had 
not been fortunate enough to get any fish, so had nothing for 
supper but farinha mingau and a cup of coffee ; and I then 
hung my hammock under a little palm-leaf shed, that had been 
made by some former traveller. 

Our breakfast was a repetition of our supper, and we again 
started onwards, but every half hour had to stop and partly 
unload our boat, and drag it over some impediment. In many 
places there was a smooth ledge of rock with only a little water 
trickling over it, or a series of steps forming minature cascades. 
The stream was now sunk in a little channel or ravine fifteen 
or twenty feet deep, and with an interminable succession of 
turnings and windings towards every point of the compass. 
At length, late in the evening, we reached the port of Pimichin, 
formerly a village, but now containing only two houses. We 
found an old shed without doors and with a leaky roof the 
traveller's house of which we took possession. 

Our canoe being unloaded, I went to one of the cottages to 
forage, and found a Portuguese deserter, a very civil fellow, 
who gave me the only eatable thing he had in the house, 
which was a piece of smoke-dried fish, as hard as a board and 
as tough as leather. This I gave to the Indians, and got him 
to come and take a cup of coffee with me, which, though he 
had some coffee-trees around his house, was still quite a treat, 
as he had no sugar or molasses. From this place a road leads 
overland about ten miles through the forest to Javita, a 
village on the Temi, a branch of the Atabapo, which flows 
into the Orinooko. Finding that I could get nothing to eat 
here, I could not remain, as I had at first intended, but was 
obliged to get my things all carried by road to Javita, and 
determined to walk over the next day to see about getting men 
to do it. In the evening I took my gun, and strolled along the 
road a little way into the forest, at the place I had so long looked 
forward to reaching, and was rewarded by falling in with one 
of the lords of the soil, which I had long wished to encounter. 


As I was walking quietly along I saw a large jet-black 
animal come out of the forest about twenty yards before me, 
which took me so much by surprise that I did not at first 
imagine what it was. As it moved slowly on, and its whole 
body and long curving tail came into full view in the middle 
of the road, I saw that it was a fine black jaguar. I involun- 
tarily raised my gun to my shoulder, but remembering that 
both barrels were loaded with small shot, and that to fire would 
exasperate without killing him, I stood silently gazing. In the 
middle of the road he turned his head, and for an instant 
paused and gazed at me, but having, I suppose, other business 
of his own to attend to, walked steadily on, and disappeared in 
the thicket. As he advanced, I heard the scampering of small 
animals, and the whizzing flight of ground birds, clearing the 
path for their dreaded enemy. 

This encounter pleased me much. I was too much surprised, 
and occupied too much with admiration, to feel fear. I had 
at length had a full view, in his native wilds, of the rarest 
variety of the most powerful and dangerous animal inhabiting 
the American continent. I was, however, by no means desirous 
of a second meeting, and, as it was near sunset, thought it most 
prudent to turn back towards the village. 

The next morning I sent all my Indians to fish, and walked 
myself along the road to Javita, and thus crossed the division 
between the basins of the Amazon and the Orinooko. The 
road is, generally speaking, level, consisting of a series of 
slight ascents and descents, nowhere probably varying more 
than fifty feet in elevation, and a great part of it being over 
swamps and marshes, where numerous small streams intersect 
it. At those places roughly squared trunks of trees are laid 
down longitudinally, forming narrow paths or bridges, over 
which passengers have to walk. 

The road is about twenty or thirty feet wide, running nearly 
straight through a lofty forest. On the sides grow numbers of 
the Inaja* palm (Maximiliana regia), the prickly Mauritia 
(M. aculeata) in the marshes, and that curious palm the 
Piassaba, which produces the fibrous substance now used for 
making brooms and brushes in this country for street-sweeping 
and domestic purposes. This is the first and almost the only 
point where this curious tree can be seen, while following any 
regular road or navigation. From the mouth of the Padauari 

1 85 1.] THE PI ASS ABA PALM. 167 

(a branch of the Rio Negro about five hundred miles above 
Barra), it is found on several rivers, but never on the banks 
of the main stream itself. A great part of the population of 
the Upper Rio Negro is employed in obtaining the fibre 
for exportation ; and I thus became acquainted with all the 
localities in which it is found. These are the rivers Padauari, 
Jaha, and Daraha on the north bank of the Rio Negro, and 
the Marie and Xie on the south. The other two rivers, the 
Maraviha and Cababuris, on the north, have not a tree ; 
neither have the Curicuriari, Uaupes, and Isanna, on the 
south, though they flow between the Marie and the Xie, where 
it abounds. In the whole of the district about the Upper Rio 
Negro above Sao Carlos, and about the Atabapo and its 
branches, it is abundant, and just behind the village of Tomo 
was where I first saw it. It grows in moist places, and is 
about twenty or thirty feet high, with the leaves large, pinnate, 
shining, and very smooth and regular. The whole stem is 
covered with a thick coating of the fibres, hanging down like 
coarse hair, and growing from the bases of the leaves, which 
remain attached to the stem. Large parties of men, women, 
and children go into the forests to cut this fibre. It is exten- 
sively used in its native country for cables and small ropes for 
all the canoes and larger vessels on the Amazon. Humboldt 
alludes to this plant by the native Venezuelan name of 
Chiquichiqui, but does not appear to have seen it, though he 
passed along this road. I believe it to be a species of Leo- 
poldinia, of which two other kinds occur in the Rio Negro 
and, like this tree, are found there only. I could not find 
it in flower or fruit, but took a sketch of its general appearance, 
and have called it Leopoldinia Piassaba, from its native name, 
in the greater part of the district which it inhabits. 

On approaching the end of the road I came to a " rhossa," 
or cleared field, where I found a tall, stout Indian planting 
cassava. He addressed me with " Buenos dias," and asked 
me where I was going, and if I wanted anything at the village, 
for that the Commissario was away, and he was the Capitao. 
I replied in the best Spanish I could muster up for the 
occasion, and we managed to understand each other pretty 
well. He was rather astonished when I told him I was going 
to stay at the village, and seemed very doubtful of my inten- 
tions. I informed him, however, that I was a " Naturalista," 

1 68 TRAVELS ON THE RIO NEGRO. [February, 

and wanted birds, insects, and other animals ; and then he 
began to comprehend, and at last promised to send me some 
men the day after the next, to carry over my luggage. I 
accordingly turned back without going to the village, which 
was still nearly a mile off. 

On my return to Pimichin I found that my Indians had 
had but little success in fishing, three or four small perch being 
all we could muster for supper. As we had the next day to 
spare, I sent them early to get some "timbo" to poison the 
water, and thus obtain some more fish. While they were gone, 
I amused myself with walking about the village, and taking 
notes of its peculiarities. Hanging up under the eaves of our 
shed was a dried head of a snake, which had been killed a 
short time before. It was a jararaca, a species of Cras- 
pedocefihaluS) and must have been of a formidable size, for its 
poison-fangs, four in number, were nearly an inch long. My 
friend the deserter informed me that there were plenty like it 
in the mass of weeds close to the house, and that at night they 
came out, so that it was necessary to keep a sharp watch in 
and about the house. The bite of such a one as this would 
be certain death. 

At Tomo I had observed signs of stratified upheaved rocks 
close to the village. Here the flat granite pavement presented 
a curious appearance : it contained, imbedded in it, fragments 
of rock, of an angular shape, of sandstone crystallized and 
stratified, and of quartz. Up to Sao Carlos I had constantly 
registered the boiling-point of water with an accurate ther- 
mometer, made for the purpose, in order to ascertain the height 
above the level of the sea. There I had unfortunately broken 
it, before arriving at this most interesting point, the watershed 
between the Amazon and the Orinooko. I am, however, 
inclined to think that the height given by Humboldt for Sao 
Carlos is too great. He himself says it is doubtful, as his 
barometer had got an air-bubble in it, and was emptied and re- 
filled by him, and before returning to the coast was broken, so 
as to render a comparison of its indications impossible. Under 
these circumstances, I think little weight can be attached to the 
observations. He gives, however, eight hundred and twelve feet 
as the height of Sao Carlos above the sea. My observations 
made a difference of 0*5 of Fahrenheit in the temperature of 
boiling water between Barra and Sao Carlos, which would give 

1851.] INDIAN CARRIERS, 169 

a height of two hundred and fifty feet, to which may be added 
fifty feet for the height of the station at which the observations 
were made at Barra, making three hundred feet. Now the 
height of Barra above the sea I cannot consider to be more than 
a hundred feet, for both my own observations and those of Mr. 
Spruce with the aneroid would make Barra lower than Para, if 
the difference of pressure of the atmosphere was solely owing 
to height, the barometer appearing to stand regularly higher at 
Barra than at Para, a circumstance which shows the total 
inapplicability of that instrument to determine small heights at 
very great distances. I cannot therefore think that Sao Carlos 
is more than four hundred, or at the outside five hundred feet, 
above the level of the sea. Should, as I suspect, the mean 
pressure of the atmosphere in the interior and on the coasts of 
South America differ from other causes than the elevation, it 
will be a difficult point ever accurately to ascertain the levels 
of the interior of this great continent, for the distances are too 
vast and the forests too impenetrable to allow a line of levels 
to be carried across it. 

When my Indians returned with the roots of timbo, we all 
set to work beating it on the rocks with hard pieces of wood, 
till we had reduced it to fibres. It was then placed in a small 
canoe, filled with water and clay, and well mixed and squeezed, 
till all the juice had come out of it. This being done, it was 
carried a little way up the stream, and gradually tilted in, and 
mixed with the water. It soon began to produce its effects : 
small fish jumped up out of the water, turned and twisted about 
on the surface, or even lay on their backs and sides. The 
Indians were in the stream with baskets, hooking out all that 
came in the way, and diving and swimming after any larger 
ones that appeared at all affected. In this way, we got in an 
hour or two a basketful of fish, mostly small ones, but contain- 
ing many curious species I had not before met with. Numbers 
escaped, as we had no weir across the stream ; and the next 
day several were found entangled at the sides, and already 
putrefying. I now had plenty to do. I selected about half a 
dozen of the most novel and interesting species to describe 
and figure, and gave the rest to be cleaned and put in the pot, 
to provide us a rather better supper than we had had for some 
days past. 

The next morning early our porters appeared, consisting of 


one man and eight or ten women and girls. We accordingly 
made up loads for each of them. There was a basket of salt 
about a hundred pounds weight, four baskets of farinha, 
besides boxes, baskets, a jar of oil, a demijohn of molasses, a 
portable cupboard, and numerous other articles. The greater 
part of these were taken, in loads proportioned to the strength 
of the bearers, and two of my Indians accompanied them, 
and were to return in the evening, and then go with me the 
next day. Night came, however, and they did not appear ; 
but near midnight they came in, telling me that they could 
not keep up with the Javita Indians, and night coming on 
while they were in the middle of the road, they had hid their 
burdens in the forest and returned. So the next morning they 
had to go off again to finish their journey, and I was obliged 
to wait till they came back, and was delayed another day before 
I could get all my things taken. 

I occupied myself in the forest catching a few insects, which, 
however, were not very numerous. The following morning we 
had nothing for breakfast, so I sent the Indians off early to 
fish, with positive instructions to return by ten o'clock, in order 
that we might get to Javita before night. They chose, how- 
ever, to stay till past noon, and then came with two or three 
small fish, which did not give us a mouthful apiece. It was 
thus two o'clock before we started. I was pretty well loaded 
with gun, ammunition, insect-boxes, etc., but soon got on 
ahead, with one Indian boy, who could not understand a 
single word of Portuguese. About halfway I saw a fine mutun, 
a little way off the road, and went after it ; but I had only 
small shot in my gun, and wounded it, but did not bring it 
down. I still followed, and fired several times but without 
effect, and as it had suddenly got dark I was obliged to leave 
it. We had still some miles to go. The sun had set, so we 
pushed on quickly, my attendant keeping close at my heels. 
In the marshes and over the little streams we had now some 
difficulty in finding our way along the narrow trunks laid for 
bridges. I was barefoot, and every minute stepped on some 
projecting root or stone, or trod sideways upon something 
which almost dislocated my ankle. It was now pitch-dark : 
dull clouds could just be distinguished through the openings 
in the high arch of overhanging trees, but the road we were 
walking on was totally invisible. Jaguars I knew abounded 


here, deadly serpents were plentiful, and at every step I almost 
expected to feel a cold, gliding body under my feet, or deadly 
fangs in my leg. Through the darkness I gazed, expecting 
momentarily to encounter the glaring eyes of a jaguar, or to 
hear his low growl in the thicket. But to turn back or to stop 
were alike useless : I. knew that we could not be very far from 
the village, and so pressed on, with a vague confidence that 
after all nothing disagreeable would happen, and that the next 
day I should only laugh at my fears overnight. Still the sharp 
fangs of the dried snake's head at Pimichin would come across 
my memory, and many a tale of the fierceness and cunning of 
the jaguar were not to be forgotten. At length we came to 
the clearing I had reached two days before, and I now knew 
that we had but a short distance to go. There were, however, 
several small streams to cross. Suddenly we would step into 
water, which we felt but could not see, and then had to find 
the narrow bridge crossing it. Of the length of the bridge, its 
height above the water, or the depth of the stream, we were 
entirely ignorant ; and to walk along a trunk four inches wide 
under such circumstances, was rather a nervous matter. We 
proceeded, placing one foot before the other, and balancing 
steadily, till we again felt ourselves on firm ground. On one 
or two occasions I lost my balance, but it was luckily only a 
foot or two to the ground and water below, though if it had been 
twenty it would have been all the same. Some half dozen of 
brooks and bridges like this had to be passed, and several 
little up and downs in the road, till at length, emerging from 
the pitchy shade upon an open space, we saw twinkling lights, 
which told us the village was before us. 

In about a quarter of an hour more we reached it, and, 
knocking at a door, asked where the Commissario lived. We 
were directed to a house on the other side of the square, where 
an old man conducted us to the " Casa de nagao " (a shed with 
a door), in which were all my goods. On asking him if he 
could furnish me something for supper, he gave us some 
smoked turtles' eggs and a piece of salt fish, and then left 
us. We soon made a fire with some sticks we found, roasted 
our fish, and made a supper with the eggs and some farinha ; 
I then hung up my hammock, and my companion lay on the'' 
ground by the side of the fire ; and I slept well, undisturbed 
by dreams of snakes or jaguars. 


The next morning I called on the Commissario, for the old 
man I had seen the evening before was only a capitao. I 
found him in his house : he was an Indian who could read 
and write, but not differing in any other respect from the 
Indians of the place. He had on a shirt and a pair of short- 
legged trousers, but neither shoes nor stockings. I informed 
him why I had come there, showed him my Brazilian passport, 
and requested the use of the Convento (a house formerly 
occupied by the priests, but now kept for travellers) to live in. 
After a little demur, he gave me the key of the house, and so 
I said good-morning, and proceeded to take possession. 

About the middle of the day, the Indians who had started 
with me the day before arrived ; they had been afraid to come 
on in the dark, so had encamped in the road. I now got the 
house swept out, and my things taken into it. It consisted of 
two small rooms, and a little verandah at the back ; the larger 
room contained a table, chair, and bench, and in the smaller I 
hung up my hammock. My porters then came to be paid for 
bringing over my goods. All wanted salt, and I gave them a 
basinful each and a few fish-hooks, for carrying a heavy load 
ten miles : this is about their regular payment. 

I had now reached the furthest point in this direction that I 
had wished to attain. I had passed the boundary of the mighty 
Amazon valley, and was among the streams that go to swell 
another of the world's great waters the Orinooko. A deficiency 
in all other parts of the Upper Amazon district was here 
supplied, a road through the virgin forest, by which I could 
readily reach its recesses, and where I was more sure of 
obtaining the curious insects of so distant a region, as well as the 
birds and other animals which inhabit it ; so I determined to 
remain here at least a month, steadily at work. Every day I 
went myself along the road, and sent my Indians, some to fish 
in the little black river Temi, others with their gravatanas to 
seek for the splendid trogons, monkeys, and other curious birds 
and animals in the forest. 

Unfortunately, however, for me, on the very night I reached 
the village it began to rain, and day after day cloudy and 
showery weather continued. For three months Javita had 
enjoyed the most splendid summer weather, with a clear sky 
and hardly a shower. I had been wasting all this time in the 
rainy district of the cataracts of the Rio Negro. No one there 

1 851.3 LAST DAY OF SUMMER. 173 

could tell me that the seasons, at such a short distance, differed 
so completely, and the consequence was that I arrived at Javita 
on the very last day of summer. 

The winter or rainy season commenced early this year. The 
river kept rapidly rising. The Indians constantly assured me 
that it was too soon for the regular rains to commence, that 
we should have fine weather again, the river would fall, and 
the winter not set in for two or three weeks. However, such 
was not the case. Day after day the rain poured down ; every 
afternoon or night was wet, and a little sunshine in the morning 
was the most we were favoured with. Insects consequently 
were much more scarce than they otherwise would have been, 
and the dampness of the atmosphere rendered it extremely 
difficult to dry and preserve those that I obtained. How- 
ever, by perseverance I amassed a considerable number of 
specimens ; and what gave me the greatest pleasure was, that 
I almost daily obtained some new species which the Lower 
Amazon and Rio Negro had not furnished me with. During 
the time I remained here (forty days), I procured at least forty 
species of butterflies quite new to me, besides a considerable 
collection of other orders ; and I am sure that during the dry 
season Javita would be a most productive station for any per- 
severing entomologist. I never saw the great blue butterflies, 
Morpho Menelaus, M. HeIe?ior, etc., so abundant as here. In 
certain places in the road I found them by dozens sitting on 
the ground or on twigs by the roadside, and could easily have 
captured a dozen or twenty a day if I had wanted them. In 
birds and mammalia I did not do much, for my Indians wanted 
to get back, and were lazy and would not hunt after them. 
During my walks in the forest, I myself saw wild-pigs, agoutis, 
coatis, monkeys, numerous beautiful trogons, and many other 
fine birds, as well as many kinds of serpents. 

One day I had brought to me a curious little alligator of a 
rare species, with numerous ridges and conical tubercles 
{Caiman gibbus), which I skinned and stuffed, much to the 
amusement of the Indians, half a dozen of whom gazed in- 
tently at the operation. 

Of fish, too, I obtained many new species, as my Indians were 
out fishing every day to provide our supper, and I generally 
had some to figure and describe in the afternoon. I formed a 
good collection of the smaller kinds in spirits. My drawings here 


were made under great difficulties. I generally returned from 
the forest about three or four in the afternoon, and if I found 
a new fish, had to set down immediately to figure it before 
dark. I was thus exposed to the pest of the sand-flies, which, 
every afternoon, from four to six, swarm in millions, causing 
by their bites on the face, ears, and hands, the most painful 
irritation. Often have I been obliged to start up from my seat, 
dash down my pencil, and wave my hands about in the cool 
air to get a little relief. But the sun was getting low, and I 
must return to my task, till, before I had finished, my hands 
would be as rough and as red as a boiled lobster, and violently 
inflamed. Bathing them in cold water, however, and half an 
hour's rest, would bring them to their natural state ; in which 
respect the bite of this little insect is far preferable to that of 
the mosquito, the pium, or the mutiica, the effects of whose 
bites are felt for days. 

The village of Javita is rather a large one, regularly laid out, 
and contains about two hundred inhabitants : they are all 
Indians of pure blood ; I did not see a white man, a mulatto, 
or a half-breed among them. Their principal occupation is in 
cutting piassaba in the neighbouring forests, and making cables 
and cordage of it. They are also the carriers of all goods 
across the " Estrada de Javita," and, being used to this service 
from childhood, they will often take two loads a day ten miles 
each way, with less fatigue than a man not accustomed to the 
work can carry one. When my Indians accompanied the 
Javitanos the first time from Pimichin, they could not at all 
keep up with them, but were, as I have related, obliged to stop 
halfway. They go along the road at a sort of run, stopping to 
rest twice only for a few minutes each time. They go over the 
narrow bridges with the greatest certainty, often two together, 
carrying heavy loads suspended from a pole between them. 
Besides this, once or twice a year they will go in a body to 
clean the road as far as the middle, where there is a cross 
erected. The inhabitants of Marda, Tomo, and other villages 
of the Rio Negro assemble to clean the other half. One of 
these cleanings occurred while I was there. The whole village, 
men, women, and children, turned out, the former carrying 
axes and cutlasses, the latter bundles of switches to serve as 
brooms. They divided themselves into parties, going on to 
different parts of the road, and then worked to meet each 


other. The men cut down all overhanging or fallen trees 
which obstructed the way, and cleared off all the brushwood 
and weeds which were growing up on the sides. The women 
and girls and boys carried these away, and swept clean with 
their switch brooms all the dead leaves and twigs, till the 
whole looked quite neat and respectable. To clear up a road 
five miles in length in this manner was no trifle, but they 
accomplished it easily and very thoroughly in two days. 

A little while after the men again turned out, to make new 
bridges in several places where they had become decayed. 
This was rather a laborious task. Large trees had to be cut 
down, often some distance from the spot; they were then 
roughly squared or flattened on top and bottom, and with 
cords of withes and creepers, and with numerous long sticks 
and logs placed beneath for rollers, were dragged by twenty 
or thirty men to the spot, placed in a proper position over the 
marsh or stream, propped and wedged securely, and the upper 
surface roughed with the axe to make the footing more sure. 
In this way eight or ten of these bridges were made in a few days, 
and the whole road put in complete order. This work is done 
by order of the Commissario Geral at Sao Fernando, without 
any kind of payment, or even rations, and with the greatest 
cheerfulness and good humour. 

The men of Javita when at work wear only the " tanga," in 
other respects being entirely naked. The women wear usually 
a large wrapping dress passing over the left shoulder but leaving 
the right arm perfectly free, and hanging loosely over their 
whole person. On Sundays and festivals they have well-made 
cotton gowns, and the men a shirt and trousers. Here exists 
the same custom as at Sao Carlos, of the girls and boys assem- 
bling morning and evening at the. church to sing a hymn or 
psalm. The village is kept remarkably clean and free from 
weeds by regular weekly hoeings and weedings, to which the 
people are called by the Capitaos, who are the executive officers 
under the Commissario. 

My evenings were very dull, having few to converse with, 
and no books. Now and then I would talk a little with the 
Commissario, but our stock of topics was soon exhausted. 
One or two evenings I went to their festas, when they had 
made a quantity of "xirac " the caxiri of the Brazilian Indians 
and were very merry. They had a number of peculiar 


monotonous dances, accompanied by strange figures and con- 
tortions. The young girls generally came neatly dressed, their 
glossy hair beautifully plaited, and with gay ribbons or flowers 
to set it off. The moment the xirac is finished the party 
breaks up, as they do not seem to think it possible to dance 
without it : sometimes they make enough to last two or three 
days. Their dances appear quite national, but they have appa- 
rently left off paint, as I saw very little used. 

The language spoken by these people is called the Maniva 
or Baniwa, but it differs considerably from the Baniwa of the 
Rio Negro, and is not so harsh and guttural. At Tomo and 
Marda another language is spoken, quite distinct from this, but 
still called the Baniwa ; a little further down, at Sao Carlos, 
the Barre is used ; so that almost every village has its language. 
Here the men and old women all speak Spanish tolerably, 
there having formerly been priests living at the Convento, who 
instructed them. The younger women and the boys and girls, 
not having had this advantage, speak only the native tongue ; 
but many of them can understand a little Spanish. I found 
considerable difficulty in making myself intelligible here. The 
white men, who are called "rationales" (rationals), could 
understand my mixed Portuguese and Spanish very well, but 
the Indians, knowing but little Spanish themselves, cannot of 
course comprehend any deviations from the ordinary method 
of speaking. I found it necessary, therefore, to keep my Spanish 
by itself, as they could better understand a little and good, 
than a great deal of explanation in the mixed tongue. 

Some of my dull and dreary evenings I occupied in writing 
a description of the village and its inhabitants, in what may 
probably be very dreary blank verse ; but as it shows my ideas 
and thoughts at the time, I may as well give it the reader in 
place of the more sober and matter-of-fact view of the matter I 
should probably take now. I give it as I wrote it, in a state of 
excited indignation against civilised life in general, got up to 
relieve the monotony of my situation, and not altogether as my 
views when writing in London in 1853. 


"'Tis where the streams divide, to swell the floods 
Of the two mighty rivers of our globe ; 
Where gushing brooklets in their narrow beds 


Lie hid, o'ershadow'd by th' eternal woods, 

And trickle onwards, these to increase the wave 

Of turbid Orinooko ; those, by a longer course 

In the Black River's isle-strewn bed, flow down 

To mighty Amazon, the river-king, 

And, mingled with his all-engulfing stream, 

Go to do battle with proud Ocean's self, 

And drive him back even from his own domain. 

There is an Indian village ; all around, 

The dark, eternal, boundless forest spreads 

Its varied foliage. Stately palm-trees rise 

On every side, and numerous trees unknown 

Save by strange names uncouth to English ears. 

Here I dwelt awhile the one white man 

Among perhaps two hundred living souls. 

They pass a peaceful and contented life, 

These black-hair'd, red-skinn'd, handsome, half-wild men. 

Directed by the sons of Old Castile, 

They keep their village and their houses clean; 

And on the eve before the Sabbath-day 

Assemble all at summons of a bell, 

To sweep within and all around their church, 

In which next morn they meet, all neatly dress'd, 

To pray as they've been taught unto their God. 

It was a pleasing sight, that Sabbath morn, 

Reminding me of distant, dear-loved home. 

On one side knelt the men, their simple dress 

A shirt and trousers of coarse cotton cloth : 

On the other side were women and young girls, 

Their glossy tresses braided with much taste, 

And on their necks all wore a kerchief gay, 

And some a knot of riband in their hair. 

How like they look'd, save in their dusky skin, 

To a fair group of English village maids ! 

Yet far superior in their graceful forms ; 

For their free growth no straps or bands impede, 

But simple food, free air, and daily baths 

And exercise, give all that Nature asks 

To mould a beautiful and healthy frame. 

"Each day some labour calls them. Now they go 
To fell the forest's pride, or in canoe 
"With hook, and spear, and arrow, to catch fish ; 
Or seek the various products of the wood, 
To make their baskets or their hanging beds. 
The women dig the mandiocca root, 
And with much labour make of it their bread. 
These plant the young shoots in the fertile earth 
Earth all untill'd, to which the plough, or spade, 
Or rake, or harrow, are alike unknown. 



The young girls carry water on their heads 
In well-formed pitchers, just like Cambrian maids; 
And all each morn and eve wash in the stream, 
And sport like mermaids in the sparkling wave. 

" The village is laid out with taste and skill : 
In the midst a spacious square, where stands the church, 
And narrow streets diverging all around. 
Between the houses, filling up each space, 
The broad, green-leaved, luxuriant plantain grows, 
Bearing huge bunches of most wholesome fruit; 
The orange too is there, and grateful lime ; 
The Inga pendent hangs its yard-long pods 
(Whose flowers attract the fairy humming-birds) ; 
The guava, and the juicy, sweet cashew, 
And a most graceful palm, which bears a fruit 
In bright red clusters, much esteem'd for food ; 
And there are many more which Indians 
Esteem, and which have only Indian names. 
Th thouses are of posts fill'd up with mud, 
Smooth'd, and wash'd over with a pure white cla}'; 
A palm-tree's spreading leaves supply a thatch 
Impervious to the winter's storms and rain. 
No nail secures the beams or rafters, all 
Is from the forest, whose lithe, pendent cords 
Bind them into a firm enduring mass. 
From the tough fibre of a fan-palm's leaf 
They twist a cord to make their hammock-bed, 
Their bow-string, line, and net for catching fish. 
Their food is simple fish and cassava-bread, 
With various fruits, and sometimes forest game, 
All season'd with hot, pungent, fiery peppers. 
Sauces and seasonings too, and drinks they have, 
Made from the mandiocca's poisonous juice; 
And but one foreign luxury, which is salt. 
Salt here is money : daily they bring to me 
Cassava cakes, or fish, or ripe bananas, 
Or birds or insects, fowls or turtles' eggs, 
And still they ask for salt. Two teacups-full 
Buy a large basket of cassava cakes, 
A great bunch of bananas, or a fowl. 

" One day they made a festa, and, just like 
Our villagers at home, they drank much beer, 
(Beer made from roasted mandiocca cakes,) 
Call'd here "shirac," by others "caxirf," 
But just like beer in flavour and effect ; 
And then they talked much, shouted and sang, 
And men and maids all danced in a ring 
With much delight, like children at their play. 

1 8s i.] A DESCRIPTION OF J A VITA. 179 

For music they've small drums and reed-made fifes, 

And vocal chants, monotonous and shrill, 

To which they'll dance for hours without fatigue. 

The children of small growth are naked, and 

The boys and men wear but a narrow cloth. 

How I delight to see those naked boys ! 

Their well-form 'd limbs, their bright, smooth, red-brown skin, 

And every motion full of grace and health ; 

And as they run, and race, and shout, and leap, 

Or swim and dive beneath the rapid stream, 

Or, all bareheaded in the noonday sun, 

Creep stealthily, with blowpipe or with bow, 

To shoot small birds or swiftly gliding fish, 

I pity English boys ; their active limbs 

Cramp'd and confined in tightly-fitting clothes; 

Their toes distorted by the shoemaker, 

Their foreheads aching under heavy hats, 

And all their frame by luxury enervate. 

But how much more I pity English maids, 

Their waist, and chest, and bosom all confined 

By that vile torturing instrument called stays ! 

"And thus these people pass their simple lives. 
They are a- peaceful race ; few serious crimes 
Are known among them ; they nor rob nor murder, 
And all the complicated villanies 
Of man called civilised are here unknown. 
Yet think not 1 would place, as some would do, 
The civilised below the savage man ; 
Or wish that we could retrograde, and live 
As did our forefathers ere Caesar came. 
'Tis true the miseries, the wants and woes, 
Thepoverty, the crimes, the broken hearts, 
The intense mental agonies that lead 
Some men to self-destruction, some 
To end their days within a madhouse cell, 
The thousand curses that gold brings upon us, 
The long death-struggle for the means to live, 
All these the savage knows and suffers not. 
. But then the joys, the pleasures and delights, 
That the well-cultivated mind enjoys ; 
The appreciation of the beautiful 
In nature and in art ; the boundless range 
Of pleasure and of knowledge books afford ; 
The constant change of incident and scene 
That makes us live a life in every year ; 
All these the savage knows not and enjoys not. 
Still we may ask, ' Does stern necessity 
Compel that this great good must co-exist 
For ever with that monstrous mass of ill ? 


Must millions suffer these dread miseries, 

While but a few enjoy the grateful fruits ? ' 

For are there not, confined in our dense towns, 

And scattered over our most fertile fields, 

Millions of men who live a lower life 

Lower in physical and moral health 

Than the Red Indian of these trackless wilds? 

Have we not thousands too who live a life 

More low, through eager longing after gold, 

Whose thoughts, from morn to night, from night to morn, 

Are how to get more gold ? 

What know such men of intellectual joys ? 

They've but one joy the joy of getting gold. 

In nature's wondrous charms they've no delight, 

The one thing beautiful for them is gold. 

Thoughts of the great of old which books contain, 

The poet's and the historian's fervid page, 

Or all the wonders science brings to light, 

For them exist not. They've no time to spend 

In such amusements : 'Time,' say they, 'is gold.' 

And if they hear of some immortal deed, 

Some noble sacrifice of power or fortune 

To save a friend or spotless reputation, 

A deed that moistens sympathetic eyes, 

And makes us proud we have such fellow-men, 

They say, ' Who make such sacrifice are fools, 

For what is life without one's hard-earn'd gold ? ' 

Rather than live a man like one of these, 

I'd be an Indian here, and live content 

To fish, and hunt, and paddle my canoe, 

And see my children grow, like young wild fawns, 

In health of body and in peace of mind, 

Rich without wealth, and happy without gold ! " 

Javita, March, 1851. A. W. 

I had gone on here in my regular routine some time, when 
one morning, on getting up, I found none of the Indians, and 
no fire in the verandah. Thinking they had gone out early 
to hunt or fish, as they sometimes did, I lit the fire and got 
my breakfast, but still no sign of any of them. Looking about, 
I found that their hammocks, knives, an earthen pan, and 
a few other articles, were all gone, and that nothing was left 
in the house but what was my own. I was now convinced 
that they had run away in the night, and left me to get on 
as I could. They had been rather uneasy for some days past, 
asking me when I meant to go back. They did not like being 
among people whose language they could not speak, and had 

1 85 i.J NEW COFFEE. 181 

been lately using up an enormous quantity of farinha, hoping 
when they had finished the last basket that I should be unable 
to purchase any more in the village, and should therefore be 
obliged to return. The day before I had just bought a fresh 
basket, and the sight of that appears to have supplied the last 
stimulus necessary to decide the question, and make them fly 
from the strange land and still stranger white man, who spent 
all his time in catching insects, and wasting good caxaca by 
putting fish and snakes into it. However, there was now 
nothing to be done, so I took my insect-net, locked up my 
house, put the key (an Indian-made wooden one) in my pocket, 
and started off for the forest. 

I had luckily, a short time before, bought a fine Venezuelan 
cheese and some dried beef, so that, with plenty of cassava- 
bread and plantains, I could get on very well. In the evening 
some of my usual visitors among the Indians dropped in, and 
were rather surprised to see me lighting my fire and preparing 
my dinner ; and on my explaining the circumstances to them, 
they exclaimed that my Indians were "mala gente" (bad 
fellows), and intimated that they had always thought them no 
better than they should be. I got some of the boys to fetch 
me water from the river, and to bring me in a stock of fuel, 
and then, with coffee and cheese, roasted plantains and cassava- 
bread, I lived luxuriously. My coffee, however, was just 
finished, and in a day or two I had none. This I could hardly 
put up with without a struggle, so I went down to the cottage 
of an old Indian who could speak a little Spanish, and begged 
him, " por amor de Dios, ' to get me some coffee from a small 
plantation he had. There were some ripe berries on the trees, 
the sun was shining out, and he promised to set his little girl 
to work immediately. This was about ten in the morning. 
I went into the forest, and by four returned, and found that 
my coffee was ready. It had been gathered, the pulp washed 
off, dried in the sun (the longest part of the business), husked, 
roasted, and pounded in a mortar ; and in half an hour more 
I enjoyed one of the most delicious cups of coffee I have ever 

As I wanted to remain a fortnight longer, I tried to persuade 
one of the brown damsels of the village to come and make my 
fire and cook for me; but, strange to say, not one would 
venture, though in the other villages of the Rio Negro I might 


at any moment have had my choice of half a dozen ; and I was 
forced to be my own cook and housemaid for the rest of my 
stay in Javita. 

There was now in the village an old Indian trader who had 
come from Medina, a town at the foot of the Andes, near 
Bogota, and from him and some other Indians I obtained 
much information relative to that part of the country, and the 
character of the streams that flow from the mountains down to 
the Orinooko. He informed me that he had ascended by the 
river Muco, which enters the Orinooko above the Falls of 
Maypures, and by which he had reached a point within twenty 
miles of the upper waters of the Meta, opposite Medina. The 
river Muco had no falls or obstructions to navigation, and all 
the upper part of its course flowed through an open country, 
and had fine sandy beaches ; so that between this river and 
the Guaviare is the termination of the great forest of the 
Amazon valley. 

The weather was now terribly wet. For successive days 
and nights rain was incessant, and a few hours of sunshine was 
a rarity. Insects were few, and those I procured it was almost 
impossible to dry. In the drying box they got destroyed by 
mould, and if placed in the open air and exposed to the sun 
minute flies laid eggs upon them, and they were soon eaten up 
by maggots. The only way I could preserve them was to 
hang them up some time every evening and morning over my 
fire. I now began to regret more than ever my loss of the 
fine season, as I was convinced that I could have reaped a 
splendid harvest. I had, too, just began to initiate the Indian 
boys into catching beetles for me, and was accumulating a very 
nice collection. Every evening three or four would come in 
with their treasures in pieces of bamboo, or carefully tied up 
in leaves. I purchased all they brought, giving a fish-hook 
each; and among many common I generally found some 
curious and rare species. Cokoptera, generally so scarce in 
the forest districts of the Amazon and Rio Negro, seemed 
here to become more abundant, owing perhaps to our approach 
to the margins of the great forest, and the plains of the 

I prepared to leave Javita with much regret. Although, 
considering the season, I had done well, I knew that had I 
been earlier I might have done much better. In April I had 


arranged to go up the unexplored Uaupes with Senhor L., and 
even the prospect of his conversation was agreeable after the 
weary solitude I was exposed to here. 

I would, however, strongly recommend Javita to any natural- 
ist wishing for a good unexplored locality in South America. 
It is easily reached from the West Indies to Angostura, and 
thence up the Orinooko and Atabapo. A pound's worth of 
fish-hooks, and five pounds laid out in salt, beads, and calico, 
will pay all expenses there for six months. The traveller should 
arrive in September, and can then stay till March, and will have 
the full benefit of the whole of the dry season. The insects 
alone would well repay any one ; the fishes are also abundant, 
and very new and interesting ; and, as my collections were lost 
on the voyage home, they would have all the advantage of 

On the 31st of March I left Javita, the Commissario having 
sent five or six Indians to carry my luggage, four of whom 
were to proceed with me to Tdmo. The Indians of Sao Carlos, 
Tdmo, and Marda had been repairing their part of the road, 
and were returning home, so some of them agreed to go with 
me in the place of the Javitanos. They had found in the 
forest a number of the harlequin beetles (Acrocinus longima- 
nus), which they offered me, carefully wrapped up in leaves ; I 
bought five for a few fish-hooks each. On arriving at Pimichin 
the little river presented a very different appearance from what 
it had when I last saw it. It was now brim-full, and the water 
almost reached up to our shed, which had before been forty 
yards off, up a steep rocky bank. Before my men ran away I 
had sent two of them to Tdmo to bring my canoe to Pimichin, 
the river having risen enough to allow it to come up, and I 
now found it here. They had taken a canoe belonging to 
Antonio Dias, who had passed Javita a few days before on his 
way to Sao Fernando, so that when he returned he had to 
borrow another to go home in. 

We descended the little river rapidly, and now saw the 
extraordinary number of bends in it. I took the bearings of 
thirty with the compass, but then there came on a tremendous 
storm of wind and rain right in our faces, which rendered it 
quite impossible to see ahead. Before this had cleared off 
night came on, so that the remainder of the bends and doubles 
of the Pimichin river must still remain in obscurity. The 


country it flows through appears to be a flat sandy tract, 
covered with a low scrubby vegetation, very like that of the 
river Cobati, up which I ascended to the Serra to obtain the 
cocks of the rock. 

It was night when we reached Marda, and we were nearly 
passing the village without seeing it. We went to the " casa 
de nacjlo," rather a better kind of shed than usual, and, making 
a good fire, passed a comfortable night. The next morning I 
called on Senhor Carlos Bueno (Charles Good), the dandy 
Indian Commissario, and did a little business with him. I 
bought a lot of Indian baskets, gravatanas, quivers, and ururf 
or curari poison, and in return gave him some fish-hooks and 
calico, and, having breakfasted with him, went on to Tdmo. 

Senhor Antonio Dias was not there, having gone to Sao Carlos, 
so I determined to wait a few days for his return, as he had 
promised to send men with me to Guia. I took up my abode 
with Senhor Domingos, who was busy superintending the 
completion of the large vessel before mentioned, in order to 
get it launched with the high w r ater, which was now within a 
foot or two of its bottom. I amused myself walking about the 
campo with my gun, and succeeded in shooting one of the 
beautiful little black-headed parrots, which have the most 
brillant green plumage, crimson under-wings, and yellow 
cheeks ; they are only found in these districts, and are rather 
difficult to obtain. I also got some curious fish to figure, 
in particular two large species of Gyjnnotus, of the group which 
are not electric. 

The Indians had a festa while I was here. They made 
abundance of " shirac," and kept up their dancing for thirty 
hours. The principal peculiarity of it was that they mixed up 
their civilised dress and their Indian decorations in a most 
extraordinary manner. They all wore clean trousers and white 
or striped shirts ; but they had also feather-plumes, bead neck- 
laces, and painted faces, which made altogether a rather queer 
mixture. They also carried theirh ammocks like scarfs over 
their shoulders, and had generally hollow cylinders in their 
hands, used to beat upon the ground in time to the dancing. 
Others had lances, bows, and wands, ornamented with feathers, 
producing as they danced in the moonlight a singular and 
wild appearance. 

Senhor Antonio Dias delayed his return, and rather a scene 

1 85 1.] DEPARTURE FROM TO MO. 185 

in his domestic circle took place in consequence. As might 
be expected, the ladies did not agree very well together. The 
elder one in particular was very jealous of the Indian girls, 
and took every opportunity of ill-treating them, and now that 
the master was absent went, I suppose, to greater lengths than 
usual ; and the consequence was, one of the girls ran away. 
This was an unexpected denouement^ and they were in a great 
state of alarm, for the girl was a particular favourite of Senhor 
Antonio's, and if he returned before she came back he was not 
likely to be very delicate in showing his displeasure. The girl 
had gone off in a canoe with a child about a year old ; the 
night had been stormy and wet, but that sort of thing will not 
stop an Indian. Messengers were sent after her, but she was 
not to be found; and then the old lady and her daughter 
went off themselves in a tremendous rain, but with no better 
success. One resource more, however, remained, and they 
resolved to apply to the Saints. Senhor Domingos was sent 
to bring the image of St. Antonio from the church. This saint 
is supposed to have especial power over things lost, but the 
manner of securing his influence is rather singular : the poor 
saint is tied round tightly with a cord and laid on his back on 
the floor, and it is believed that in order to obtain deliverance 
from such durance vile he will cause the lost sheep to return. 
Thus was the unfortunate St. Antony of Torao now treated, 
and laid ignominiously on the earthen floor all night, but 
without effect ; he was obstinate, and nothing was heard of the 
wanderer. More inquiries were made, but with no result, till 
two days afterwards Senhor Antonio himself returned accom- 
panied by the girl. She had hid herself in a sitio a short 
distance from the village, waited for Senhor Antonio's passing, 
and then joined him, and told her own story first ; and so the 
remainder of the harem got some hard words, and I am inclined 
to think some hard blows too. 

Before leaving Tomo, I purchased a pair of the beautiful 
feather-work borders, before alluded to, for which I paid $ 
in silver dollars. Five Indians were procured to go with me, 
and at the same time take another small canoe, in which to 
bring back several articles that Senhor Antonio was much in 
want of. We paid the men between us, before going, with 
calicoes and cotton cloth, worth in England about twopence a 
yard, but here valued at 25. 6d., and soap, beads, knives, and 


axes, in the same proportion. On the way, I got these Tomo 
Indians to give me a vocabulary of their language, which differs 
from that of the villages above and below them. We paddled 
by day, and floated down by night ; and as the current was 
now tremendous, we got on so quickly, that in three days wc 
reached Marabitanas, a distance which had taken us nine in 
going up. 

Here I stayed a week with the Commandante, who had 
invited me when at Guia. I, however, did little in the collect- 
ing way : there were no paths in the forest, and no insects, and 
very few birds worth shooting. I obtained some very curious 
half-spiny rodent animals, and a pretty white-marked bird, 
allied to the starlings, which appears here only once a year in 
flocks, and is called " Ciuci uera " (the star-bird). 

The inhabitants of Marabitanas are celebrated for their 
festas : their lives are spent, half at their festas, and the other 
half in preparing for them. They consume immense quantities 
of raw spirit, distilled from cane-juice and from the mandiocca : 
at a festa which took place while I was here, there was about a 
hogshead of strong spirit consumed, all drunk raw. In every 
house, where the dancing takes place, there are three or four 
persons constantly going round with a bottle and glass, and no 
one is expected ever to refuse ; they keep on the whole night, 
and the moment you have tasted one glass, another succeeds, 
and you must at least take a sip of it. The Indians empty the 
glass every time ; and this continues for two or three days. 
When all is finished, the inhabitants return to their sitios, and 
commence the preparation of a fresh lot of spirit for the next 

About a fortnight before each festa which is always on a 
Saint's day of the Roman Catholic Church a party of ten or 
a dozen of the inhabitants go round, in a canoe, to all the sitios 
and Indian villages within fifty or a hundred miles, carrying 
the image of the saint, flags, and music. They are entertained 
at every house, the saint is kissed, and presents are made for 
the feast ; one gives a fowl, another some eggs or a bunch of 
plantains, another a few coppers. The live animals are fre- 
quently promised beforehand for a particular saint ; and often, 
when I have wanted to buy some provisions, I have been 
assured that "that is St. John's pig," or that "those fowls 
belong to the Holy Ghost." 

1 85 1.] ARRIVAL AT GUI A. 187 

Bidding adieu to the Commandante, Senhor Tenente Anto- 
nio Filisberto Correio de Araujo, who had treated me with the 
greatest kindness and hospitality, I proceeded on to Guia, 
where I arrived about the end of April, hoping to find Senhor 
L. ready, soon to start for the river Uaupes ; but I was again 
doomed to delay, for a canoe which had been sent to Barra 
had not yet returned, and we could not start till it came. It 
was" now due, but as it was manned by Indians, only who had 
no particular interest in hurrying back, it might very well be a 
month longer. And so it proved, for it did not arrive till the 
end of May. All that time I could do but little ; the season 
was very wet, and Guia was a poor locality. Fishes were my 
principal resource, as Senhor L. had a fisherman out every 
day, to procure us our suppers, and I always had the day's 
sport brought to me first, to select any species I had not yet 
seen. In this way I constantly got new kinds, and became 
more than ever impressed with the extraordinary variety and 
abundance of the inhabitants of these rivers. I had now 
figured and described a hundred and sixty species from the Rio 
Negro alone ; I had besides seen many others ; and fresh varie- 
ties still occurred as abundantly as ever in every new locality. 
I am convinced that the number of species in the Rio Negro 
and its tributaries alone would be found to amount to five or 
six hundred. But the Amazon has most of its fishes peculiar 
to itself, and so have all its numerous tributaries, especially in 
their upper waters ; so that the number of distinct kinds 
inhabiting the whole basin of the Amazon must be immense. 



Rapid Current An Indian Malocca The Inmates A Festival Paint 
and Ornaments Illness Sao Jeronymo Passing the Cataracts 
Jauarite The Tushaua Calistro Singular Palm Birds Cheap 
Provisions Edible Ants, and Earthworms A GrandDance Feather 
Ornaments The Snake-dance The Capi A State Cigar Anana- 
rapicoma Fish Chegoes Pass down the Falls Tame Birds 
Orchids Piums Eating Dirt Poisoning Return to Guia Manoel 
Joaquim Annoying Delays. 

At length the long-looked-for canoe arrived, and we immedi- 
ately made preparations for our voyage. Fish-hooks and 
knives and beads were looked out to suit the customers we 
were going among, and from whom Senhor L. hoped to obtain 
farinha and sarsaparilla : and I, fish, insects, birds, and all 
sorts of bows, arrows, blowpipes, baskets, and other Indian 

On the 3rd of June, at six in the morning, we started. The 
weather had cleared up a few days before, and was now very 
fine. We had only two Indians with us, the same who had 
run away from Javfta, and who had been paid their wages 
beforehand, so we now made them work it out. Those who 
had just returned from Barra were not willing to go out again 
immediately, but we hoped to get plenty on entering the 
Uaupes. The same afternoon we reached Sao Joaquim, at 
the mouth of that river ; but as there were no men there, we 
were obliged to go on, and then commenced our real difficulties, 
for we had to encounter the powerful current of the over- 
flowing stream. At first some bays, in which there were 
counter-currents, favoured us ; but in more exposed parts, the 
waters rushed along with such violence, that our two paddles 
could not possibly move the canoe, 

i8si.] AN INDIAN MALOCCA. 189 

We could only get on by pulling the bushes and creepers 
and tree-branches which line the margin of the river, now that 
almost all the adjacent lands were more or less flooded. The 
next day we cut long hooked poles, by which we could pull 
and push ourselves along at all difficult points, with more 
advantage. Sometimes, for miles together, we had to proceed 
thus, getting the canoe filled, and ourselves covered, with 
stinging and biting ants of fifty different species, each produc- 
ing its own peculiar effect, from a gentle tickle to an acute 
sting ; and which, getting entangled in our hair and beards, 
and creeping over all parts of our bodies under our clothes, 
were not the most agreeable companions. Sometimes, too, 
we would encounter swarms of wasps, whose nests were 
concealed among the leaves, and who always make a most 
furious attack upon intruders. The naked bodies of the 
Indians offered no defence against their stings, and they several 
times suffered while we escaped. Nor are these the only 
inconveniences attending an up-stream voyage in the time of 
high flood, for all the river-banks being overflowed, it is only at 
some rocky point which still keeps above water that a fire can 
be made ; and as these are few and far between, we frequently 
had to pass the whole day on farinha and water, with a piece 
of cold fish or a pacova, if we were so lucky as to have any. 
All these points, or sleeping places, are well known to the 
traders in the river, so that whenever we reached one, at 
whatever hour of the day or night, we stopped to make our 
coffee and rest a little, knowing that we should only get to 
another haven after eight or ten hours of hard pulling and 

On the second day we found a small " Sucurujii " (Eunectes 
murinns), about a yard long, sunning itself on a bush over 
the water ; one of our Indians shot it with an arrow, and when 
we stayed for the night roasted it for supper. I tasted a piece, 
and found it excessively tough and glutinous, but without any 
disagreeable flavour ; and well stewed, it would, I have no 
doubt, be very good. Having stopped at a sitio we purchased 
a fowl, which, boiled with rice, made us an excellent supper. 

On the 7th we entered a narrow winding channel, branching 
from the north bank of the river, and in about an hour reached 
a " malocca," or native Indian lodge, the first we had en- 
countered. It was a large, substantial building, near a hundred 


feet long, by about forty wide and thirty high, very strongly 
constructed of round, smooth, barked timbers, and thatched 
with the fan-shaped leaves of the Carana palm. One end was 
square, with a gable, the other circular ; and the eaves, hang- 
ing over the low walls, reached nearly to the ground. In the 
middle was a broad aisle, formed by the two rows of the 
principal columns supporting the roof, and between these 
and the sides were other rows of smaller and shorter timbers ; 
the whole of them were firmly connected by longitudinal and 
transverse beams at the top, supporting the rafters, and were 
all bound together with much symmetry by sipds. 

Projecting inwards from the walls on each side were short 
partitions of palm-thatch, exactly similar in arrangement to the 
boxes in a London eating-house, or those of a theatre. Each 
of these is the private apartment of a separate family, who thus 
live in a sort of patriarchal community. In the side aisles are 
the farinha ovens, tipitfs for squeezing the mandiocca, huge 
pans and earthen vessels for making caxiri, and other large 
articles, which appear to be in common ; while in every 
separate apartment are the small pans, stools, baskets, redes, 
water-pots, weapons, and ornaments of the occupants. The 
centre aisle remains unoccupied, and forms a fine walk through 
the house. At the circular end is a cross partition or railing 
about five feet high, cutting off rather more than the semicircle, 
but with a wide opening in the centre : this forms the residence 
of the chief or head of the malocca, with his wives and 
children ; the more distant relations residing in the other part 
of the house. The door at the gable end is very wide and 
lofty, that at the circular end is smaller, and these are the 
only apertures to admit light and air. The upper part of the 
gable is loosely covered with palm-leaves hung vertically, 
through which the smoke of the numerous wood fires slowly 
percolates, giving, however, in its passage a jetty lustre to the 
whole of the upper part of the roof. 

On entering this house, I was delighted to find myself at 
length in the presence of the true denizens of the forest. An 
old and a young man and two women were the only occupiers, 
the rest being out on their various pursuits. The women were 
absolutely naked ; but on the entrance of the " brancos " they 
slipped on a petticoat, with which in these lower parts of the 
river they are generally provided but never use except on 


such occasions. Their hair was but moderately long, and they 
were without any ornament but strongly knitted garters, tightly 
laced immediately below the knee. 

It was the men, however, who presented the most novel 
appearance, as different from all the half-civilised races among 
whom I had been so long living, as they could be if I had been 
suddenly transported to another quarter of the globe. Their 
hair was carefully parted in the middle, combed behind the 
ears, and tied behind in a long tail reaching a yard down the 
back. The hair of this tail was firmly bound with a long cord 
formed of monkeys' hair, very soft and pliable. On the top 
of the head was stuck a comb, ingeniously constructed of 
palm-wood and grass, and ornamented with little tufts of 
toucans' rump feathers at each end ; and the ears were pierced, 
and a small piece of straw stuck in the hole ; altogether giving 
a most feminine appearance to the face, increased by the 
total absence of beard or whiskers, and by the hair of the 
eyebrows being almost entirely plucked out. A small strip 
of " tururi " (the inner bark of a tree) passed between the 
legs, and secured to a string round the waist, with a pair of 
knitted garters, constituted their simple dress. 

The young man was lazily swinging in a maqueira, but dis- 
appeared soon after we entered ; the elder one was engaged 
making one of the flat hollow baskets, a manufacture peculiar to 
this district. He continued quietly at his occupation, answering 
the questions Senhor L. put to him about the rest of the 
inhabitants in a very imperfect " Lingoa Geral," which language 
is comparatively little known in this river, and that only in the 
lower and more frequented parts. As we wanted to procure 
one or two men to go with us, we determined to stay here for the 
night. We succeeded in purchasing for a few fish-hooks some 
fresh fish, which another Indian brought in : and then prepared 
our dinner and coffee, and brought our maqueiras up to the 
house, hanging them in the middle aisle, to pass the night 
there. About dusk many more Indians, male and female, 
arrived ; fires were lighted in the several compartments, pots 
put on with fish or game for supper, and fresh mandiocca 
cakes made. I now saw several of the men with their most 
peculiar and valued ornament a cylindrical, opaque, white 
stone, looking like marble, but which is really quartz imperfectly 
crystallized. These stones are from four to eight inches long, 


and about an inch in diameter. They are ground round, and 
flat at the ends, a work of great labour, and are each pierced 
with a hole at one end, through which a string is inserted, to 
suspend it round the neck. It appears almost incredible that 
they should make this hole in so hard a substance without any 
iron instrument for the purpose. What they are said to use is 
the pointed flexible leaf-shoot of the large wild plantain, 
triturating with fine sand and a little water ; and I have no 
doubt it is, as it is said to be, a labour of years. Yet it must 
take a much longer time to pierce that which the Tushaiia 
wears as the symbol of his authority, for it is generally of the 
largest size, and is worn transversely across the breast, for 
which purpose the hole is bored lengthways from one end to 
the other, an operation which I was informed sometimes 
occupies two lives. The stones themselves are procured from 
a great distance up the river, probably from near its sources at 
the base of the Andes ; they are therefore highly valued, and 
it is seldom the owners can be induced to part with them, the 
chiefs scarcely ever. I here purchased a club of hard red wood 
for a small mirror, a comb for half-a-dozen small fish-hooks, and 
some other trifling articles. 

A portion only of the inhabitants arrived that night, as when 
traders come they are afraid of being compelled to go with 
them, and so hide themselves. Many of the worst characters 
in the Rio Negro come to trade in this river, force the Indians, 
by threats of shooting them, into their canoes, and sometimes 
even do not scruple to carry their threats into execution, they 
being here quite out of reach of even that minute portion of 
the law which still struggles for existence in the Rio Negro. 

We passed the night in the malocca, surrounded by the 
naked Indians hanging round their fires, which sent a fitful 
light up into the dark smoke-filled roof. A torrent of rain 
poured without, and I cmld not help admiring the degree of 
sociality and comfort in numerous families thus living together 
in patriarchal harmony. The next morning Senhor L. suc- 
ceeded in persuading one Indian to earn a " saia " (petti- 
coat) for his wife, and embark with us, and so we bade adieu to 
Assai Parana (Assai river). On lifting up the mat covering 
of our canoe, I found lying comfortably coiled up on the top 
of my box a fine young boa, of a species of which I possessed 
two live specimens at Gufa : he had probably fallen in unper- 


ceived during our passage among the bushes on the river-side. 
In the afternoon we reached another village, also situated up 
a narrow igaripe, and consisting of a house and two maloccas 
at some distance from it. The inhabitants had gone to a 
neighbouring village, where ther^ was caxiri and dancing, and 
two women only were left behind with some children. About 
these houses were several parrots, macaws, and curassow-birds, 
which all these Indians breed in great numbers. The next 
day we reached Ananarapicoma, or " Pine-apple Point," the 
village where the dance was taking place. It consisted of 
several small houses besides the large malocca, many of the 
Indians who have been with traders to the Rio Negro imitating 
them in using separate dwellings. 

On entering the great malocca a most extraordinary and 
novel scene presented itself. Some two hundred men, women, 
and children were scattered about the house, lying in the 
maqueiras, squatting on the ground, or sitting on the small 
painted stools, which are made only by the inhabitants of this 
river. Almost all were naked and painted, and wearing their 
various feathers and other ornaments. Some were walking or 
conversing, and others were dancing, or playing small fifes 
and whistles. The regular festa had been broken up that 
morning ; the chiefs and principal men had put off their 
feather head-dresses, but as caxiri still remained, the young 
men and women continued dancing. They were painted over 
their whole bodies in regular patterns of a diamond or diagonal' 
character, with black, red, and yellow colours ; the former, a 
purple or blue black, predominating. The face was orna- 
mented in various styles, generally with bright red in bold 
stripes or spots, a large quantity of the colour being applied 
to each ear, and running down on the sides of the cheeks and 
neck, producing a very fearful and sanguinary appearance. 
The grass in the ears was now decor' *.ed with a little tuft of 
white downy feathers, and some in addition had three little 
strings of beads from a hole pierced in the lower lip. All 
wore the garters, which were now generally painted yellow. 
Most of the young women who danced had besides a small 
apron of beads of about eight inches by six inches, arranged 
in diagonal patterns with much taste ; besides this, the paint 
on their naked bodies was their only ornament ; they had not 
even the comb in their hair, which the men are never without. 



The men and boys appropriated all the ornaments, thus 
reversing the custom of civilised countries and imitating nature, 
who invariably decorates the male sex with the most brilliant 
colours and most remarkable ornaments. On the head all 
wore a coronet of bright red and yellow toucans' feathers, set 
in a circlet of plaited straw. The comb in the hair was 
ornamented with feathers, and frequently a bunch of white 
heron's plumes attached to it fell gracefully down the back. 
Round the neck or over one shoulder were large necklaces of 
many folds of white or red beads, as well as the white 
cylindrical stone hung on the middle of a string of some black 
shining seeds. 

The ends of the monkey-hair cords which tied the hair were 
ornamented with little plumes, and from the arm hung a 
bunch of curiously-shaped seeds, ornamented with bright 
coloured feathers attached by strings of monkeys' hair. Round 
the waist was one of their most valued ornaments, possessed 
by comparatively few, the girdle of oncas' teeth. And lastly, 
tied round the ankles were large bunches of a curious hard 
fruit, which produce a rattling sound in the dance. In their 
hands some carried a bow and a bundle of curabis, or war- 
arrows ; others a murucii, or spear of hard polished wood, or 
an oval painted gourd, filled with small stones and attached 
to a handle, which, being shaken at regular intervals in the 
dance, produced a rattling' accompaniment to the leg ornaments 
and the song. 

The wild and strange appearance of these handsome, naked, 
painted Indians, with their curious ornaments and weapons, 
the stamp and song and rattle which accompanies the dance, 
the hum of conversation in a strange language, the music of 
fifes and flutes and other instruments of reed, bone, and 
turtles' shells, the large calabashes of caxiri constantly carried 
about, and the great smoke-blackened gloomy house, produced 
an effect to which no description can do justice, and of which 
the sight of half-a-dozen Indians going through their dances 
for show, gives but a very faint idea. 

I stayed looking on a considerable time, highly delighted 
at such an opportunity of seeing these interesting people in 
their most characteristic festivals. I was myself a great object 
of admiration, principally on account of my spectacles, which 
they saw for the first time and could not at all understand. 

1 85 1.] GIANT CIGARS. 195 

A hundred bright pairs of eyes were continually directed on 
me from all sides, and I was doubtless the great subject of 
conversation. An old man brought me three ripe pine-apples, 
for which I gave him half-a-dozen small hooks, and he was 
very well contented. 

Senhor L. was conversing with many of the Indians, with 
whom he was well acquainted, and was arranging with one to 
go up a branch of the river, several days' journey, to purchase 
some salsa and farinha for him. I succeeded in buying a 
beautiful ornamented murucu, the principal insignia of the 
Tushaua, or chief. He was very loth to part with it, and I 
had to give an axe and a large knife, of which he was much 
in want. I also bought two cigar-holders, about two feet long, 
in which a gigantic cigar is placed and handed round on these 
occasions. The. next morning, after making our payments for 
the articles we had purchased, we went to bid our adieus to 
the chief. A small company who had come from some 
distance were taking their leave at the same time, going round 
the great house in Indian file, and speaking in a muttering 
tone to each head of a family. First came the old men bearing 
lances and shields of strong wicker-work, then the younger 
ones with their bows and arrows, and lastly the old and young 
women carrying their infants and the few household utensils 
they had brought with them. At these festivals drink alone 
is provided, in immense quantities, each party bringing a little 
mandiocca-cake or fish for its consumption, which, while the 
caxiri lasts, is very little. The paint on their bodies is very 
durable, for though they never miss washing two or three 
times a day, it lasts a week or a fortnight before it quite 

Leaving Ananarapicoma, we arrived the same evening at 
Mandii Parana, where there was also a malocca, which, owing 
to the great rise of the river, could only be reached by wading 
up to the middle through the flooded forest. I accordingly 
stayed to superintend the making of a lire, which the soaking 
rain we had had all the afternoon rendered a somewhat difficult 
matter, while Senhor L. went with an Indian to the house to 
arrange some "negocio" and obtain fish for supper. We 
stayed here for the night, and the next morning the Indians 
came down in a body to the canoe, and made some purchases 
offish-hooks, beads, mirrors, cloth for trousers, etc., of Senhor 


L., to be paid in farinha, fowls, and other articles on our 
return. I also ordered a small canoe as a specimen, and some 
sieves and fire-fanners, which I paid for in similar trifles ; for 
these Indians are so accustomed to receive payment before- 
hand, that without doing so you cannot depend upon their 
making anything. The next day, the 12th of June, we reached 
Sao Jeronymo, situated about a mile below the first and most 
dangerous of the Falls of the Uaupe"s. 

For the last five days I had been very ill with dysentery and 
continual pains in the stomach, brought on, I believe, by 
eating rather incautiously of the fat and delicious fish, the 
white Pirahiba or Laulau, three or four times consecutively 
without vegetable food. Here the symptoms became rather 
aggravated, and though not at all inclined to despond in 
sickness, yet as I knew this disease to be a very fatal one in 
tropical climates, and I had no medicines or even proper food 
of any kind, I certainly did begin to be a little alarmed. The 
worst of it was that I was continually hungry, but could not 
eat or drink the smallest possible quantity of anything without 
pains of the stomach and bowels immediately succeeding, 
which lasted several hours. The diarrhoea too was continual, 
with evacuations of slime and blood, which my diet of the last 
few days, of tapioca-gruel and coffee, seemed rather to have 

I remained here most of the day in my maqueira, but in the 
afternoon some fish were brought in, and finding among them 
a couple of new species, I set to work figuring them, determined 
to let no opportunity pass of increasing my collections. This 
village has no malocca, but a number of small houses ; having 
been founded by the Portuguese before the Independence. 
It is pleasantly situated on the sloping bank of the river, which 
is about half a mile wide, with rather high land opposite, and 
a view up to the narrow channel, where the waters are bound- 
ing and foaming and leaping high in the air with the violence 
of the fall, or more properly rapid. 

There was a young Brazilian " negociante " and his wife 
residing in this village, and as he was also about ascending the 
river to fetch farinha, we agreed to go together. The next 
morning we accordingly started, proceeding along the shore 
to near the fall, w r here we crossed among boiling foam and 
whirling eddies, and entered into a small igaripe, where the 

1851.] FALLS ON THE UAUPES. 197 

canoe was entirely unloaded, all the cargo carried along a 
rugged path through the forest, and the canoe taken round 
a projecting point, where the violence of the current and the 
heaving waves of the fall render it impossible for anything 
but a small empty oba to pass, and even that with great 

The path terminated at a narrow channel, through which a 
part of the river in the wet season flows, but which in the 
summer is completely dry. Were it not for this stream, the 
passage of the rapids in the wet season would be quite 
impossible ; for though the actual fall of the water is trifling, 
its violence is inconceivable. The average width of the river 
may be stated at near three times that of the Thames at 
London ; and it is in the wet season very deep and rapid. At 
the fall it is enclosed in a narrow sloping rocky gorge, about 
the width of the middle arch of London Bridge, or even less. 
I need say no more to prove the impossibility of ascending 
such a channel. There are immense whirlpools which engulf 
large canoes. The waters roll like ocean waves, and leap up 
at intervals, forty or fifty feet into the air, as if great subaqueous 
explosions were taking place. 

Presently the Indians appeared with our canoe, and, assisted 
by a dozen more who came to help us, pulled it up through 
the shallows, where the water was less violent. Then came 
another difficult point ; and we plunged again into the forest 
with half the Indians carrying our cargo, while the remainder 
went with the canoe. There were several other dangerous 
places, and two more disembarkations and land carriages, the 
last for a considerable distance. Above the main fall the 
river is suddenly widened out into a kind of a lake, filled with 
rocky islands, among which are a confusion of minor falls and 
rapids. However, having plenty of Indians to assist us, we 
passed all these dangers by a little after midday, and reached 
a malocca, where we stayed for the afternoon repairing the 
wear and tear of the palm-mats and toldas, and cleaning our 
canoe and arranging our cargo, ready to start the next 

In two days more we reached another village, called Jukefra 
Picoma, or Salt Point, where we stayed a day. I was well 
satisfied to find myself here considerably better, owing, I 
believe, to my having tried fasting as a last resource : for two 


days I had only taken a little farinha gruel once in the twenty- 
four hours. In a day and a half from Jukefra we reached 
Jauarite", a village situated just below the caxoeira of the same 
name, the second great rapid on the Uaupes. Here we had 
determined to stay some days and then return, as the caxoeira 
is very dangerous to pass, and above it the river, for many 
days' journey, is a succession of rapids and strong currents, 
which render the voyage up at this season in the highest 
degree tedious and disagreeable. We accordingly disembarked 
our cargo into a house, or rather shed, near the shore, made 
for the accommodation of traders, which we cleaned and took 
possession of, and felt ourselves quite comfortable after the 
annoyances we had been exposed to in reaching this place. 
We then walked up to the malocca, to pay a visit to the 
Tushaiia. This house was a noble building of its kind, being 
one hundred and fifteen feet long, seventy-five wide, and about 
twenty-five feet high, the roof and upper timbers being black 
as jet with the smokes of many years. There were besides 
about a dozen private cottages, forming a small village. Scat- 
tered around were immense numbers of the Pupunha Palm 
(Guilielma sfieciosa), the fruit of which forms an important 
part of the food of these people during the season ; it was now 
just beginning to ripen. The Tushaiia was rather a respect- 
able-looking man, the possessor of a pair of trousers and a 
shirt, which he puts on in honour of white visitors. Senhor 
L., however, says he is one of the greatest rogues on the river, 
and will not trust him, as he does most of the other Indians, 
with goods beforehand. He rejoices in the name of Calistro, 
and pleased me much by his benevolent countenance and 
quiet dignified manner. He is said to be the possessor of 
great riches in the way of oncas' teeth and feathers, the result 
of his wars upon the Maciis and other tribes of the tributary 
rivers ; but these he will not show to the whites, for fear of 
being made to sell them. Behind the malocca I was pleased 
to see a fine broad path, leading into the forest to the several 
maridiocca rhossas. The next morning early I went with my 
net to explore it, and found it promise pretty well for insects, 
considering the season. I was greatly delighted at meeting in 
it the lovely clear-winged butterfly allied to the Esmeralda, 
that I had taken so sparingly at Javita; and I also took a 
specimen of another of the same genus, quite new to me. A 


Plate VII. 

1 85 1.] THE PAXIUBA PALM. 199 

plain-coloured Acroza, that I had first met with at Jukefra, was 
here also very abundant. 

In a hollow near a small stream that crossed the path I 
found growing the singular palm called " Paxiiiba barriguda " 
(the big-bellied paxiuba). It is a fine, tall, rather slender tree, 
wi'th a head of very elegant curled leaves. At the base of the 
stem is a conical mass of air-roots, five or six feet high, more 
or less developed in all the species of this genus. But the 
peculiar character from which it derives its name is, that the 
stem at rather more than halfway up swells suddenly out to 
double its former thickness or more, and after a short distance 
again contracts, and continues cylindrical to the top. It is 
only by seeing great numbers of these trees, all with this 
character more or less palpable, that one can believe it is not 
an accidental circumstance in the individual tree, instead of 
being truly characteristic of the species. It is the Iriartea 
ventricosa of Martius. 

I tried here to procure some hunters and fishermen, but 
was not very successful. I had a few fish brought me, and 
now and then a bird. A curious bird, called anambe, was 
flying in flocks about the pupunha palms, and after much 
trouble I succeeded in shooting one, and it proved, as I had 
anticipated, quite different from the Gymnoderus nudicollis, 
which is a species much resembling it in its flight, and common 
in all parts of the Rio Negro. I went after them several times, 
but could not succeed in shooting another; for though they 
take but short flights, they remain at rest scarcely an instant. 
About the houses here were several trumpeters, curassow-birds, 
and those beautiful parrots, the anacas (Derotypus accipitrinus), 
which all wander and fly about at perfect liberty, but being 
bred from the nest, always return to be fed. The Uaupes 
Indians take much delight, and are very successful, in breeding 
birds and animals of all kinds. 

We stayed here a week, and I went daily into the forest 
when the weather was not very wet, and generally obtained 
something interesting. I frequently met parties of women and 
boys, going to and returning from the rhossas. Sometimes 
they would run into the thicket till I had passed ; at other 
times they would merely stand on one side of the path, with a 
kind of bashful fear at encountering a white man while in that 
state of complete nudity, which they know is strange to us. 


When about the houses in the village however, or coming to 
fill their water-pots or bathe in the river close to our habitation, 
they were quite unembarrassed, being, like Eve, " naked and not 
ashamed." Though some were too fat, most of them had 
splendid figures, and many of them were very pretty. Before 
daylight in the morning all were astir, and came to the river to 
wash. It is the chilliest hour of the twenty-four, and when we 
were wrapping our sheet or blanket' more closely around us, 
we could hear the plunges and splashings of these early bathers. 
Rain or wind is all alike to them : their morning bath is never 
dispensed with. 

Fish were here very scarce, and we were obliged to live 
almost entirely on fowls, which, though very nice when well 
roasted and with the accompaniment of ham and gravy, are 
rather tasteless simply boiled or stewed, with no variation in 
the cookery, and without vegetables. I had now got so 
thoroughly into the life of this part of the country, that, like 
everybody else here, I preferred fish to every other article of 
food. One never tires of it ; and I must again repeat that I 
believe there are fish here superior to any in the world. 
Our fowls cost us about a penny each, paid in fish-hooks 
or salt, so that they are not such expensive food as they 
would be at home. In fact, if a person buys his hooks, 
salt, and other things in Para, where they are about half the 
price they are at Barra, the price of a fowl will not exceed a 
halfpenny; and fish, pacovas, and other eatables that the 
country produces, in the same proportion. A basket of farinha, 
that will last one person very well a month, will cost about 
threepence; so that with a small expenditure a man may obtain 
enough to live on. The Indians here made their mandiocca 
bread very differently from, and very superior to, those of the 
adjacent rivers. The greater part is tapioca, which they mix 
with a small quantity of the prepared mandiocca-root, and form 
a white, gelatinous, 'granular cake, which with a little use is 
very agreeable, and is much sought after by all the white 
traders on the river. Farinha they scarcely ever eat themselves, 
but make it only to sell ; and as they extract the tapioca, which 
is the pure glutinous portion of the root, to make their own 
bread, they mix the refuse with a little fresh mandiocca to 
make farinha, which is thus of a very poor quality ; yet such is 
the state of agriculture on the Rio Negro, that the city of Barra 

1 8s i.] A GRAND DANCE. 201 

depends in a great measure upon this refuse food of the Indians, 
and several thousand alqueires are purchased, and most of it 
sent there, annually. 

The principal food of these Indians is fish, and when they 
have neither this nor any game, they boil a quantity of peppers, 
in which they dip their bread. At several places where we 
stopped this was offered to our men, who ate with a relish the 
intensely burning mess. Yams and sweet potatoes are also 
abundant, and with pacovas form a large item in their stock of 
eatables. Then they have the delicious drinks made from the 
fruits of the assaf, baccaba, and patawa palms, as well as 
several other fruits. 

The large saubas and white ants are an occasional luxury, 
and when nothing else is to be had in the wet season they eat 
large earth-worms, which, when the lands in which they live 
are flooded, ascend trees, and take up their abode in the 
hollow leaves of a species of Tillandsia, where they are often 
found accumulated by thousands. Nor is it only hunger that 
makes them eat these worms, for they sometimes boil them 
with their fish to give it an extra relish. 

They consume great quantities of mandiocca in making 
caxiri for their festas, which are continually taking place. As 
I had not seen a regular dance, Senhor L. asked the Tushaua 
to make some caxiri and invite his friends and vassals to dance, 
for the white stranger to see. He readily consented, and, as 
we were to leave in two or three days, immediately sent round 
a messenger to the houses of the Indians near, to make known 
the day and request the honour of their company. As the 
notice was so short, it was only those in the immediate neigh- 
bourhood who could be summoned. 

On the appointed day numerous preparations were taking 
place. The young girls came repeatedly to fill their pitchers 
at the river early in the morning, to complete the preparation 
of the caxiri. In the forenoon they were busy weeding all 
round the malocca, and sprinkling water, and sweeping within 
it. The women were bringing in dry wood for the fires, and 
the young men were scattered about in groups, plaiting straw 
coronets or arranging some other parts of their ornaments. 
In the afternoon, as I came from the forest, I found several 
engaged in the operation of painting, which others had already 
completed. The women had painted themselves or each 


other, and presented a neat pattern in black and red all over 
their bodies, some circles and curved lines occurring on their 
hips and breasts, while on their faces round spots of a bright 
vermilion seemed to be the prevailing fashion. The juice of 
a fruit which stains of a fine purplish-black is often poured on 
the back of the head and neck, and, trickling all down the 
back, produces what they, no doubt, consider a very elegant 
dishabille. These spotted beauties were now engaged in 
performing the same operation for their husbands and sweet- 
hearts, some standing, others sitting, and directing the fair 
artists how to dispose the lines and tints to their liking. 

We prepared our supper rather early, and about sunset, just 
as we had finished, a messenger came to notify to us that the 
dance had begun, and that the Tushaua had sent to request 
our company. We accordingly at once proceeded to the 
malocca, and entering the private apartment at the circular 
end, were politely received by the Tushaua, who was dressed in 
his shirt and trousers only, and requested us to be seated in 
maqueiras. After a few minutes' conversation I turned to look 
at the dancing, which was taking place in the body of the 
house, in a large clear space round the two central columns. 
A party of about fifteen or twenty middle-aged men were 
dancing ; they formed a semicircle, each with his left hand on 
his neighbour's right shoulder. They were all completely 
furnished with their feather ornaments, and I now saw for the 
first time the head-dress, or acangatara, which they value highly. 
This consists of a coronet of red and yellow feathers disposed 
in regular rows, and firmly attached to a strong woven or plaited 
band. The feathers are entirely from the shoulders of the 
great red macaw, but they are not those that the bird naturally 
possesses, for these Indians have a curious art by which they 
change the coIoufs of the feathers of many birds. 

They pluck out those they wish to paint, and in the fresh 
wound inoculate with the milky secretion from the skin of a 
small frog or toad. When the feathers grow again they are of 
a brilliant yellow or orange colour, without any mixture of blue 
or green, as in the natural state of the bird ; and on the new 
plumage being again plucked out, it is said always to come of 
the same colour without any fresh operation. The feathers 
are renewed but slowly, and it requires a great number of them 
to make a coronet, so we see the reason why the owner esteems 

1 85 1 . ] ORNA ME NTS. 203 

it so highly, and only in the greatest necessity will part with 

Attached to the comb on the top of the head is a fine broad 
plume of the tail-coverts of the white egret, or more rarely of 
the under tail-coverts of the great harpy eagle. These are 
large, snowy white, loose and downy, and are almost equal in 
beauty to a plume of white ostrich feathers. The Indians 
keep these noble birds in great open houses or cages, feeding 
them with fowls (of which they will consume two a day), solely 
for the sake of these feathers ; but as the birds are rare, and 
the young with difficulty secured, the ornament is one that 
few possess. From the ends of the comb cords of monkeys' 
hair, decorated with small feathers, hang down the back, and 
in the ears are the little downy plumes, forming altogether a 
most imposing and elegant head-dress. All these dancers had 
also the cylindrical stone of large size, the necklace of white 
beads, the girdle of oncas' teeth, the garters, and ankle-rattles. 
A very few had besides a most curious ornament, the nature 
of which completely puzzled me : it was either a necklace or a 
circlet round the forehead, according to the quantity pos- 
sessed, and consisted of small curiously curved pieces of a 
white colour with a delicate rosy tinge, and appearing like shell 
or enamel. They say they procure them from the Indians of 
the Japura* and other rivers, and that they are very expensive, 
three or four pieces only costing an axe. They appear to me 
more like portions of the lip of a large shell cut into perfectly 
regular pieces than anything else, but so regular in size and 
shape, as to make me doubt again that they can be shell, or 
that Indians can form them. 

In their hands each held a lance, or bundle of arrows, or 
the painted calabash-rattle. The' dance consisted simply of a 
regular sideway step, carrying the performers round and round 
in a circle ; the simultaneous stamping of the feet, the rattle 
and clash of the leg ornaments and calabashes, and a chant of 
a few words repeated in a deep tone, producing a very martial 
and animated effect. At certain intervals the young women 
joined in, each one taking her place between two men, whom 
she clasped with each arm round the waist, her head bending 
forward beneath the outstretched arm above, which, as the 
women were all of low stature, did not much interfere with 
their movements. They kept their places for one or two 


rounds, and then, at a signal of some sort, all left and retired 
to their seat on stools or on the ground, till the time should 
come for them again to take their places. The greater part of 
them wore the " tanga," or small apron of beads, but some 
were perfectly naked. Several wore large cylindrical copper 
earrings, so polished as to appear like gold. These and the 
garters formed their only ornaments, necklaces, bracelets, 
and feathers being entirely monopolised by the men. The 
paint with which they decorate their whole bodies has a very 
neat effect, and gives them almost the appearance of being 
dressed, and as such they seem to regard it ; and however 
much those who have not witnessed this strange scene may 
be disposed to differ from me, I must record my opinion that 
there is far more immodesty in the transparent and flesh- 
coloured garments of our stage-dancers, than in the perfect 
nudity of these daughters of the forest. 

In the open space outside the house, a party of young men 
and boys, who did not possess the full costume, were dancing 
in the same manner. They soon, however, began what may be 
called the snake dance. They had made two huge artificial 
snakes of twigs and bushes bound together with sipos, from 
thirty to forty feet long and about a foot in diameter, with a 
head of a bundle of leaves of the Umbooba (Cecropia), painted 
with bright red colour, making altogether a very formidable- 
looking reptile. They divided themselves into two parties of 
twelve or fifteen each, and lifting the snakes on their shoulders, 
began dancing. 

In the dance they imitated the undulations of the serpent, 
raising the head and twisting the tail. They kept advancing 
and retreating, keeping parallel to each other, and every time 
coming nearer to the principal door of the house. At length 
they brought the heads of the snakes into the very door, but 
still retreated several times. Those within had now concluded 
their first dance, and after several more approaches, in came 
the snakes with a sudden rush, and, parting, went one on the 
right side and one on the left. They still continued the 
advancing and retreating step, till at length, each having tra- 
versed a semicircle, they met face to face. Here the two 
snakes seemed inclined to fight, and it was only after many 
retreatings and brandishings of the head and tail, that they 
could muster resolution to rush past each other. After one or 


two more rounds, they passed out to the outside of the house, 
and the dance, which had apparently much pleased all the 
spectators, was concluded. 

During all this time caxiri was being abundantly supplied, 
three men being constantly employed carrying it to the guests. 
They came one behind the other down the middle of the 
house, with a large calabash-full in each hand, half stooping 
down, with a kind of running dance, and making a curious 
whirring, humming noise : on reaching the door they parted on 
each side, distributing their calabashes to whoever wished to 
drink. In a minute or two they were all empty, and the cup- 
bearers returned to fill them, bringing them every time with 
the same peculiar forms, which evidently constitute the etiquette 
of the caxiri-servers. As each of the calabashes holds at least 
two quarts, the .quantity drunk during a whole night that this 
process is going on must be very great. 

Presently the Capi was introduced, an account of which I 
had had from Senhor L. An old man comes forward with a 
large newly-painted earthen pot, which he sets down in the 
middle of the house. He then squats behind it, stirs it about, 
and takes out two small calabashes-full, which he holds up in 
each hand. After a moment's pause, two Indians advance 
with bows and arrows or lances in their hands. Each takes 
the proffered cup and drinks, makes a wry face, for it is 
intensely bitter, and stands motionless perhaps half a minute. 
They then with a start twang their bows, shake their lances, 
stamp their feet, and return to their seats. The little bowls 
are again filled, and two others succeed them, with a similar 
result. Some, however, become more excited, run furiously, 
lance in hand, as if they would kill an enemy, shout and stamp 
savagely, and look very warlike and terrible, and then, like the 
others, return quietly to their places. Most of these receive a 
hum or shake of applause from the spectators, which is also 
given at times during the dances. 

The house at this time contained at least three hundred 
men, women, and children ; a continual murmuring conversa- 
tion was kept up, and fifty little fifes and flutes were constantly 
playing, each on its own account, producing a not very harmo- 
nious medley. After dark a large fire was lighted in the middle 
of the house, and as it blazed up brightly at intervals, illumi- 
nating the painted and feather-dressed dancers and the numerous 


strange groups in every variety of posture scattered about the 
great house, I longed for a skilful painter to do justice to a 
scene so novel, picturesque, and interesting. 

A number of fires were also made outside the house, and the 
young men and boys amused themselves by jumping over 
them when flaming furiously, an operation which, with their 
naked bodies, appeared somewhat hazardous. Having been 
now looking on about three hours, we went to bid adieu to the 
Tushaiia, previous to retiring to our house, as I did not feel 
much inclined to stay with them all night. We found him 
with a few visitors, smoking, which on these occasions is per- 
formed in a very ceremonious manner. The cigar is eight or 
ten inches long and an inch in diameter, made of tobacco 
pounded and dried, and enclosed in a cylinder made of a large 
leaf spirally twisted. It is placed in a cigar-holder about two 
feet long, like a great two-pronged fork. The bottom is pointed, 
so that when not in use it can be stuck in the ground. This 
cigar was offered to us, and Senhor L. took a few whiffs for us 
both, as he is a confirmed smoker. The caxiri was exceed- 
ingly good (although the mandiocca-cake of which it is made 
is chewed by a parcel of old women), and I much pleased the 
lady of the Tushaiia by emptying the calabash she offered me, 
and pronouncing it to be " purangarete " (excellent). We then 
said " Ere " (adieu), and groped our way down the rough path 
to our river-side house, to be sung to sleep by the hoarse 
murmur of the cataract. The next morning the dance was 
still going on, but, as the caxiri was nearly finished, it termi- 
nated about nine o'clock, and the various guests took their leave. 

During the dance, Bernardo, an Indian of Sao Jeronymo, 
arrived from the Rio Apaporis. Senhor L. had sent a message 
to him by his son (who had come with us) to procure some 
Indian boys and girls for him, and he now came to talk over 
the business. The procuring consists in making an attack on 
some malocca of another nation, and capturing all that do 
not escape or are not killed. Senhor L. has frequently been 
on these expeditions, and has had some narrow escapes from 
lances and poisoned arrows. At Ananarapicoma there was an 
Indian dreadfully scarred all over one shoulder and part of his 
back, the effects of a discharge of B.B. shot which Senhor L. 
had given him, just as he was in the act of turning with his 
bow and arrow : they are now excellent friends, and do business 


together. The " negociantes " and authorities in Barra and 
Para, ask the traders among the Indians to procure a boy or 
girl for them, well knowing the only manner in which they can 
be obtained ; in fact, the Government in some degree authorise 
the practice. There is something to be said too in its favour, 
for the Indians make war on each other, principally the 
natives of the margin of the river on those in the more distant 
igaripes, for the sake of their weapons and ornaments, and 
for revenge of any injury, real or imaginary, and then kill all 
they can, reserving only some young girls for their wives. The 
hope of selling them to the traders, however, induces them to 
spare many who would otherwise be murdered. These are 
brought up to some degree of civilisation (though I much doubt 
if they are better or happier than in their native forests), and 
though at times ill-treated, they are free, and can leave their 
masters whenever they like, which, however, they seldom do 
when taken very young. Senhor L. had been requested by 
two parties at Barra one the Delegarde de Policia to furnish 
them each with an Indian girl, and as this man was an old 
hand at the business, he was now agreeing with him, furnish- 
ing him with powder and shot for he had a gun and giving 
him some goods, to pay other Indians for assisting him, and to 
do a little business at the same time if he had the opportunity. 
He was to return at the furthest in a fortnight, and we were to 
wait for him in Sao Jeronymo. 

The Tushaiia came to pay us a visit almost every day, to 
talk a little, and sometimes drink a cup of coffee. His wife 
and some of his daughters, who possessed a " safa," also often 
came, bringing us pacovas, mandiocca-cake, and other things, 
for which they always expected to be paid. We bought here a 
good number of stools and baskets, which cost five or six 
hooks each ; also fowls, parrots, trumpeters, and some other 
tame birds. When we first arrived, almost the whole body of 
the inhabitants came to visit us, requesting to see what we had 
brought to sell ; accordingly we spread out our whole stock of 
fish-hooks, knives, axes, mirrors, beads, arrow-heads, cottons 
and calicoes, which they handled and admired in unintelligible 
languages/for about two hours. It is necessary to make this ex- 
position in every village, as they will bring nothing to sell un- 
less they first know that you have what they want in exchange. 

Two days after the dance we bade adieu to Jauarite, and by 


midday reached Jukeira, where we had determined to spend 
another week. There was no regular house here for the 
accommodation of travellers, so we had to take possession of 
an unoccupied shed, which the Tushaiia had prepared for us, 
and where we soon found we were exposed to a pest abundant 
in all Indians' houses, the " bichos do pe," or chegoes. Nor 
was this all, for the blood-sucking bats were abundant, and the 
very first night bit Senhor L., as well as his little boy, who in 
the morning presented a ghastly sight, both legs being thickly 
smeared and blotched with blood. There was only one bite 
on the toe, but the blood flows plentifully, and as the boy was 
very restless at night, he had managed to produce the sangui- 
nary effect I have mentioned. Several of the Indians were 
also bitten, but I escaped by always well wrapping my feet in 
my blanket. 

The paths in the forest here were not so good as those at 
Jauarite, and produced me very few insects ; the Indians, how- 
ever, were rather better in bringing me birds and fish. I 
obtained some very pretty little tanagers, and several new fish. 
In one lot of small fish brought to me in a calabash were 
seven different species, five of which were quite new to me. 
A species of C/ia/ceus, called Jatuarana, was abundant here, 
and most delicious eating, almost, if not quite, equal to the 
Waracu, but like it very full of forked spines, which require 
practice and delicate handling to extract, or they may produce 
dangerous effects. Several Indians of the Coveu nation, from 
considerably higher up the river, were staying here. They are 
distinguished by the ear-lobe being pierced with so large a hole 
as to be plugged with a piece of wood the size of a common 
bottle-cork. When we entered their house they set before us, 
on the ground, smoked fish and madiocca-cake, which Senhor 
L. informs me is the general custom higher up the river, where 
the Indians have not lost any of their primitive customs by in- 
tercourse with the whites. Senhor L. had bought a quantity of 
" coroa " (the fibres of a species of Bromelia, very like flax), and 
he set these and several other Indians to twist it into thread, 
which they do by rolling it on their breasts, and form a fine well- 
twisted two-strand string, of which fine maqueiras are netted. 
Each one in two or three days produced a ball of string of a 
quarter of a pound weight, and they were well satisfied with a 
small basin of salt or half-a-dozen hooks in payment. 

1S51.] PASS THE FALLS. 209 

On one or two days of bright sunshine, a beautiful Papilio 
came about the house, settling on the ground in moist places : 
I succeeded in taking two specimens ; it is allied to P. T/ioas, 
and will probably prove a new species. This was my 
only capture worth mentioning at Jukeira. I had seen the 
same species at Jauarite, but could not take a specimen. I 
purchased one of the red macaws painted as I have mentioned 
above. Senhor L. was here quite a martyr to the chegoes, fre- 
quently extracting ten or a dozen in a day, which made . his 
feet so full of holes and wounds as to render walking painful, 
as I had experienced at Cobati and Javita. I, however, escaped 
pretty well, seldom having to take out more than two or three 
at a time, partly I believe owing to my being a good deal in 
the forest and to my always wearing slippers in the house. 
AVhen a person .has only one or two now and then, it is a 
trifling affair, and one is apt to think, as I for a long time did, 
that the dread of chegoes was quite unnecessary, and the 
accounts of their persecutions much exaggerated. Let any 
one, however, who still thinks so, take a trip into this part of 
the country, and live a month in an Indian's house, and he will 
be thoroughly undeceived. 

After staying here six days, finding little to be done, we pro- 
ceeded on our downward passage to Sao Jeronymo. On the 
second day, in the morning, we reached Urubuquarra, the 
malocca of Bernardo, situated just above the falls. There is 
a path from this place through the forest, about three miles, 
to the village ; and as there were no Indians here to assist us 
in passing the falls, we set ours to work, carrying part of the 
cargo along it. In the afternoon Bernardo's son, who had re- 
turned before us with a canoe-load of farinha, came in, and we 
arranged to pass the falls the next morning. The river had 
risen considerably since we ascended, and had now reached a 
higher point than had been known for several years, and the 
rapids were proportionally more dangerous. I therefore pre- 
ferred going through the forest, carrying with me two small 
boxes, containing the insects I had collected, and my drawings 
of fish, the loss of which would have been irreparable. The 
morning was fine, and I had a pleasant walk, though the path 
was very rugged in places, with steep descents and ascents at 
the crossing of several small brooks. Arrived at Sao Jeronymo, 
I waited for Senhor L., at the house of Senhor Augustinho, 



the young Brazilian before mentioned, who had returned from 
Jauarite* before us, with upwards of a hundred alqueires of 
farinha. About midday a tremendous storm of wind and rain 
came on, and in the afternoon Senhor L. arrived with the 
canoe, thoroughly soaked ; and informed me that they had had 
a most dangerous passage, a portion of the path where the 
cargo had to be carried through the forest being breast-deep in 
water ; and at some of the points, the violence of the current 
was so great that they narrowly escaped being carried down to 
the great fall, and dashed to pieces on the rocks. 

Here was a good house for travellers, (though without 
doors,) and we took possession and settled ourselves for a 
week or ten days' stay. We nearly filled the house with 
farinha, pitch, baskets, stools, earthen pots and pans, maqueiras, 
etc. ; we had also near a hundred fowls, which had been 
brought crammed into two huge square baskets, and w r ere now 
much pleased to be set at liberty, as well as a large collection 
of tame birds, parrots, macaws, paroquets, etc., which kept up a 
continual cawing and crying, not always very agreeable. All 
these birds were loose, flying about the village, but returning 
generally to be fed. The trumpeters and curassow-birds 
wandered about the houses of the Indians, and sometimes did 
not make their appearance for several days ; but being brought 
up from the nest, or even sometimes from the egg, there was 
little danger of their escaping to the forest. We had nine 
pretty little black-headed parrots, which every night would go 
of their own accord into a basket prepared for them to sleep 

From what I had seen on this river, there is no place equal 
to it for procuring a fine collection of live birds and animals ; 
and this, together with the desire to see more of a country so 
interesting and so completely unknown, induced me, after 
mature -deliberation, to give up for the present my intended 
journey to the Andes, and to substitute another voyage up the 
river Uaupes, at least to the Jurupari (Devil) cataract, the 
" ultima Thule " of most of the traders, and about a month's 
voyage up from its mouth. Several traders who had arrived at 
Sao Jeronymo on the way up, as well as the more intelligent 
Indians, assured me that in the upper districts there are many 
birds and animals not met with below. But what above all 
attracted me, was the information that a white species of the 

1 85 1.] THOUGHTS OF HOME. 211 

celebrated umbrella-chatterer was to be found there. The 
information on this point from several parties was so positive, 
that, though much inclined to doubt the existence of such a 
bird at all, I could not rest satisfied without one more trial, as, 
even if I did not find it, I had little doubt of obtaining many 
new species to reward me. The worst of it was, that I must go 
to Barra and return a voyage of fifteen hundred miles 
which was very disagreeable. But there was no remedy, for I 
had a considerable lot of miscellaneous collections here and at 
Guia, as well as what I left at Barra, which must be packed 
and sent off to England, or they might be destroyed by damp 
and insects. Besides which I could not undertake a voyage 
on this wild river for several months, without being well 
supplied with necessaries, and articles for barter with the 
Indians, which could only be obtained at Barra ; moreover, the 
best season for ascending would not arrive for two or three 
months, so that I could do scarcely anything if I remained 
here. The months of November, December, January, and 
February, are the "vasante," or low water, and then is the 
summer-season, when the river presents a totally different and 
a much more agreeable aspect, being everywhere bordered with 
fine sandy or rocky beaches, on which one can eat and sleep 
with comfort at any hour. Fish are then much more 
abundant ; turtles of a new species are said to be found on the 
sands, in the upper part of the river, and to lay abundance of 
eggs ; the delicious fruit of the baccaba and patawa palms are 
then ripe, and birds and insects of all kinds more easily 
procurable. These four months I hoped, therefore, to spend 
there, so as to be able to descend to Barra, and thence to 
Para, in time to return to England by July or August, with a 
numerous and valuable collection of live animals. It was on 
account of these, principally, that I determined to return to 
England a year before the time I had fixed upon, as it was 
impossible to send them without personal care and attendance. 
And so, having once made up my mind to this course, with 
what delight I thought upon the sweets of home ! What a 
paradise did that distant land seem to me ! How I thought of 
the many simple pleasures, so long absent, the green fields, 
the pleasant woods, the flowery paths, the neat gardens, all so 
unknown here ! What visions of the fireside did I conjure 
up, of the social tea-table, with familiar faces around it ! 


What a luxury seemed simple bread and butter ! and to think 
that, perhaps in one short year, I might be in the midst of all 
this ! There was a pleasure in the mere thought, that made me 
leap over the long months, the weary hours, the troubles and 
annoyances of tedious journeys, that had first to be endured. 
I passed hours in solitary walks thinking of home ; and never 
did I in former years long to be away in this tropic-land, with 
half the earnestness with which I now looked forward to 
returning back again. 

Our stay at Sao Jeronymo was prolonged by the non- 
appearance of Bernardo. Insects were not so plentiful even as 
at Jauarite ; but I generally found something in my walks, and 
obtained two fine species of Satyridce quite new to me. In a 
little patch of open bushy campo, which occurs about a mile 
back from the village, I was delighted to find abundance 
of orchids. I had never seen so many collected in one place ; 
it was a complete natural orchid-house. In an hour's ramble, 
I noticed about thirty different species ; some, minute plants 
scarcely larger than mosses, and one large semi-terrestrial 
species, which grew in clumps eight or ten feet high. There 
were but few in flower, and most of them were very small, 
though pretty. One day, however, I was much delighted to 
come suddenly upon a magnificent flower : growing out of a 
rotten stem of a tree, just level with my eye, was a bunch of 
five or six blossoms, which were three inches in diameter, 
nearly round, and varying from a pale delicate straw-colour to 
a rich deep yellow, on the basal portion of the labellum. How 
exquisitely beautiful did it appear in that wild, sandy, barren 
spot ! A day or two afterwards I found another handsome 
species, the flowers of which, unlike those of most of the family, 
were of very short duration, opening in the morning, and lasting 
but a single day. The sight of these determined me to try 
and send some to England, as from such a distant and 
unexplored locality there would probably be many new species. 
I accordingly began bringing a few home every day, and, 
packing them in empty farinha-baskets, placed them under a 
rough stage, with some plantain-leaves to defend them from 
the heat of the sun, till we should be ready to embark. I was 
rather doubtful of the result, as they could not arrive in 
England before the winter, which might be injurious ; but on 
my next voyage, I looked forward to bringing a larger collection 

1 85 1.] VARIETY OF FISHES. 213 

of these beautiful and interesting plants, as they would then 
arrive in a good season of the year. 

Sao Jeronymo is celebrated for its abundance of fish, but 
at this season they are in all places difficult to take. However, 
we had on most days enough for breakfast and supper, and 
scarcely a day passed but I had some new and strange kinds 
to add to my collection. The small fishes of these rivers are 
in wonderful variety, and the large proportion of the species 
here, different from those I had observed in the Rio Negro, 
led me to hope that in the upper parts of the river I should 
find them almost entirely new. 

Here we were tolerably free from chegoes, but had another 
plague, far worse, because more continual. We had suffered 
more or less from piums in all parts of the river, but here they 
were in such countless myriads, as to render it almost impos- 
sible to sit down during the day. It was most extraordinary 
that previously to this year they had never been known in the 
river. Senhor L. and the Indians all agreed that a pium had 
hitherto been a rarity, and now they were as plentiful as in 
their very worst haunts. Having long discarded the use of 
stockings in these " altitudes," and not anticipating any such 
pest, I did not bring a pair, which would have been useful 
to defend my feet and ankles in the house, as the pium, 
unlike the mosquito, does not penetrate any covering, however 

As it was, the torments I suffered when skinning a bird or 
drawing a fish, can scarcely be imagined by the unexperienced. 
My feet were so thickly covered with the little blood-spots 
produced by their bites, as to be of a dark purplish-red colour, 
and much swelled and inflamed. My hands suffered similarly, 
but in a less degree, being more constantly in motion. The 
only means of taking a little rest in the day, was by wrapping 
up hands and feet in a blanket. The Indians close their 
houses, as these insects do not bite in the dark, but ours 
having no door, we could not resort to this expedient. Whence 
these pests could thus suddenly appear in such vast numbers 
is a mystery which I am quite unable to explain. 

When we had been here about a week, some Indians who 
had been sent to Guia with a small cargo of farinha, returned 
and brought us news of two deaths, which had taken place in 
the village since we had left. One was of Joze, a little Indian 


boy in Senhor L.'s house, who had killed himself by eating 
dirt, a very common and destructive habit among Indians 
and half-breeds in the houses of the whites. All means had 
been tried to cure him of the habit ; he had been physicked 
and whipped, and confined indoors, but when no other 
opportunity offered he would find a plentiful supply in the 
mud-walls of the house. The symptoms produced were 
swelling of the whole body, face, and limbs, so that he could 
with difficulty walk, and not having so much care taken of him 
after we left, he ate his fill and died. 

The other was an old Indian, the Juiz of the festa of St. 
Antonio, which took place shortly after we left. He was 
poisoned with caxiri, into which had been put the juice of 
a root which produces the most dreadful effects : the tongue 
and throat swell, putrefy, and rot away, and the same effects 
seem to take place in the stomach and intestines, till, in two 
or three days, the patient dies in great agony. The poisoner 
was not known, but it was suspected to be a young woman, 
sister of an Indian who died in the village a short time before, 
and whose death they imagined to be caused by charms or 
witchcraft ; and the present murder was probably in revenge 
for this supposed injury. Coroners' inquests are here unknown, 
and the poor old man was buried, and nothing more thought 
about the matter ; perhaps, however, his friends may resort to 
the same means to repay the suspected parties. 

A few days afterwards a boy died in Sao Jeronymo, and 
for several hours a great crying and wailing was made over the 
body. His maqueira, and bow and arrows, were burnt in a 
fire made at the back of the house, within which, according to 
the universal custom of these Indians, he was buried, and the 
mother continued her mournful wailing for several days. 

The only additions I made to my collections during the 
time I stayed here, were a prehensile-tailed ant-eater, and one 
of the small nocturnal monkeys called " Jurupari Macaco," or 
Devil Monkey, a species very closely allied to that called " la," 
which inhabits the Solimoes. After waiting anxiously a 
fortnight, Bernado made his appearance with three of his 
wives and a host of children : he had been unsuccessful in his 
projected attack, the parties having obtained notice of his 
motions and absconded. He had taken every precaution, by 
entering in a different river from that in which the attack was 


to be made, and penetrating through the forest; but his 
movements were, no doubt, thought suspicious, and it was 
considered safer to get out of his way ; he was, however, con- 
fident of succeeding next time in another place, where he 
thought he could arrive unawares. 

Having now no further cause for delay, we loaded our 
canoes, and the next morning left Sao Jeronymo, on our return 
to Guia, where we arrived on the morning of the 24th, having 
been absent on our trip fifty days. 

The most important event that had occurred in the village 
was the arrival from Barra of Manoel Joaquim, a half-breed 
Brazilian, some time resident at Guia. This man was a 
specimen of the class of white men found in the Rio Negro. 
He had been a soldier, and had been engaged in some of the 
numerous revolutions which had taken place in Brazil. It was 
said he had murdered his wife, and for that, or some other 
crimes, had been banished to the Rio Negro, instead of being 
hung, as he deserved. Here he was accustomed to threaten 
and shoot at the Indians, to take their daughters and wives 
from them, and to beat the Indian woman who lived with him, 
so that she was obliged to hide for days in the forest. The 
people of Guia declared he had murdered two Indian girls, 
and had committed many other horrible crimes. He had 
formerly been friendly with Senhor L., but, a year or two ago, 
had quarrelled with him, and had attempted to set fire to his 
house > he had also attempted to shoot an old Mulatto soldier, 
who was friendly with Senhor L. For these and other crimes, 
the Subdelegarde de Policia of the district had indicted him, 
and after taking the depositions of the Indians and of Senhor 
L. against him, had wished to send him prisoner to Barra, but 
could not do so, because he had no force at his command. 
He therefore applied to the Commandante of Marabitanas, 
who was at Guia at the time ; but he was Manoel Joaquim's 
11 compadre," and took his part, and would not send him as a 
prisoner, but let him go in his own canoe, accompanied by two 
soldiers, bearing a recommendation from the Commandante 
in his favour. 

This had happened shortly before we left for the Uaupe's ; 
and now we found that Manoel Joaquim had returned in great 
triumph firing salutes and sending up rockets at every village 
he passed through. He had gone on to Marabitdnas ; but in 


a day or two more returned, and brought me some letters and 
papers from Barra. There also came a letter to Senhor L. 
from the Delegarde de Policia in Barra, saying, that Manoel 
Joaquim had presented himself, and that he (the Delegarde) 
had asked him if he came a prisoner ; that he replied, " No ; 
he came to attend to his own business." " Well, then," said 
the Delegarde, "as you have not been incommoded by this 
indictment, it is better to treat these slanders and quarrels with 
disdain ; " and said he to Senhor L., " I would advise you to 
do the same." And so ended the attempt to punish a man 
who, if one-half the crimes imputed to him were true, ought, by 
the laws of Brazil, to have been hung, or imprisoned for life. 
The poor Subdelegarde, it seems, through pure ignorance, 
committed some informalities, and this was the reason why 
Manoel Joaquim so easily and gloriously escaped. 

The best of it is that there is a special officer in Barra and 
in every other city, called the " Promotor Publico," whose sole 
duty it is to see that all the other officers of justice and of 
police do their duty, so that no criminal may escape or injustice 
be done, by the laxity or connivance of any of these parties. 
Yet, with all this, nothing is easier in the Rio Negro, than for 
any person possessed of friends or money, to defeat the ends 
of justice. 

I now found another unavoidable delay in my projected 
voyage to Barra. A canoe that was making for me was not 
yet ready, and I did not know where to obtain one sufficiently 
capacious to take all my luggage and collections : but, a few 
days after, a Spaniard, or Venezuelano, arrived at Guia with a 
canoe for Manoel Joaquim ; and as he was to return by Mara- 
bitanas, I took the opportunity of writing to the Commandante, 
asking the loan of his igarite, for the voyage to Barra and back. 
He very kindly consented, and in about a week I received it ; 
but I was as badly off as ever, for a canoe without men was of 
no use ; and the Indians, fearing the results of Manoel Joaquim's 
return, had all left Guia, and retired to their sitios in distant 
igaripes, and in the most inaccessible depths of the forest. 
The Commandante had sent orders to two Indians to go with 
me, but these were not sufficient to descend the falls with safety ; 
so, as Senhor L. was about to remove to Sao Joaquim, at the 
mouth of the Uaupes, I agreed to go with him, and try and 
procure more men there. My Indians took nearly a fortnight 

1 85 1.] ANNOYING DELAYS. 217 

to prepare the canoe with new toldas about two days work ; 
but then, though I was in a hurry, they were not. 

Senhor L. had not a single man left with him, and had to 
take his canoe down himself, and bring back Indians to assist 
him to remove his goods and his family, when we went all 
together to Sao Joaquim, where he intended to reside some 
time. I now thought I should be able to leave immediately, 
but found it not such an easy matter, for every Indian I applied 
to had some business of his own to attend to, before he could 
possibly go with me to Barra. One said, his house was very 
much out of repair, and he must first mend it ; another had 
appointed a dance to take place in a week or two, and when 
that was over, he was at my service ; so I still had to wait a 
little longer, and try the Brazilian remedy for all such annoy- 
ances " paci^ncia." 



Difficulties of Starting Descending the Falls Catching an Alligator 
Tame Parrots A Fortnight in Barra Frei Joze's Diplomacy 
Pickling a Cow-Fish A River Storm Brazilian Veracity Wanawaca 
Productiveness of the Country A Large Snake Sao Gabriel 
Sao Joaquim Fever and Ague. 

At length, on the ist of September, after another week's delay, 
having succeeded in procuring two more Indians and a pilot, I left 
on my long-desired voyage. One Indian I could only persuade 
to go, by sending four others to assist him for three days in 
clearing his mandiocca rhossa, without doing which he would 
not leave. My canoe went fully loaded, as I took a quantity 
of farinha and miscellaneous goods for Senhor L., and I had 
some little fear of the passage of the falls, which was not 
diminished by my pilot's being completely stupefied with his 
parting libations of caxirf. He was also rather fearful, saying, 
that the canoe was overloaded, and that he did not know the 
channel well below Sao Gabriel ; and that from there to Camanau 
I must get another pilot. 

The rapids, before arriving at Sao Gabriel, are not very 
dangerous, and much to my satisfaction we arrived there in 
safety, about four in the afternoon. We there partially un- 
loaded, to pass the narrow channel at the Fort, which was also 
accomplished with safety ; though not without danger at one 
point, where the canoe got out of the proper course, and the 
waves dashed in rather fearfully. I then succeeded in agreeing 
with a good pilot to take us down the next morning, and was 
much relieved by his informing me, that, the river being very 
full, the falls were not dangerous, and the canoe would pass 
with perfect safety without more unloading. I therefore will- 


ingly paid him what he asked, four milreis (about nine 
shillings) ; and the next morning, having got the canoe properly 
reloaded, we bade adieu to the Commandante, and in two 
hours had passed safely down to Camanaii. 

The navigation of these falls is of a character quite distinct 
from anything in our part of the world. A person looking at 
the river sees only a rapid current, a few eddies, swells, and 
small breakers, in which there appears nothing very formidable. 
When, however, you are in the midst of them, you are quite 
bewildered with the conflicting motions of the waters. Whirl- 
ing and boiling eddies, which burst up from the bottom at 
intervals, as if from some subaqueous explosion, with short 
cross-waves, and smooth intervening patches, almost make one 
giddy. On one side of the canoe there is often a strong down- 
current ; while, on the other, it flows in an opposite direction. 
Now there is a cross stream at the bows, and a diagonal one at 
the stern, with a foaming Scylla on one side and a whirling 
Charybdis on the other. All depends upon the pilot, who, 
well acquainted with every sunken rock and dangerous whirl- 
pool, steers clear of all perils, now directing the crew to pull 
hard, now to slacken, as circumstances require, and skilfully 
preparing the canoe to receive the impetus of the cross currents 
that he sees ahead. I imagine that the neighbourhood of 
the arches of Old London Bridge, at certain states of the tide, 
must have presented on a small scale somewhat similar dangers. 
When the river is low, the descent is more perilous ; for, though 
the force of the waters is not so great, they are so crammed with 
rocks in all stages of submersion, that to avoid them becomes 
a work requiring the greatest knowledge and care on the part 
of the pilot. Having passed these much-dreaded rapids, we 
proceeded pleasantly to Sao Joze, where I stayed a day, to 
take out part of Senhor's L.'s cargo, and reload the canoe 
properly for the voyage to Barra. 

In the afternoon, a fine specimen of one of the smaller species 
of alligator, or Jacare, was brought in, and preparations were 
made to cut it up for supper. I, however, immediately deter- 
mined to skin it, and requested to be allowed to do so, promising 
to get out the tail and body, for culinary purposes, in a very 
short time. After about an hour's hard work, I extracted the 
most meaty part of the tail, which is considered the best ; and 
in another hour delivered up the body, leaving the head and 

220 TRAVELS ON THE RIO NEGRO. {September, 

legs to be cleaned the next day in the canoe. The animal was 
nearly six feet long, and the scales of the belly could only be 
cut by heavy blows with a hammer on a large knife. It was 
caught with a line, to which was attached, by the middle, a 
short strong pointed stick baited with fish ; when swallowed, 
the stick remains firmly fixed across the stomach of the animal. 
The flesh has a very strong but rather agreeable odour, like 
guavas or some musky fruit, and is much esteemed by Indians 
and many whites ; but it requires to be young, fat, and well 
dressed, to form, in my opinion, a palatable meal. I had 
plenty of work the next day, cleaning the head and limbs, and 
these furnished a supply of meat for my Indians' supper. 

I called at the sitio of Senhor Chagas, whom I had met at 
Guia, and from him I again received the most positive infor- 
mation of the existence, on the river Uaupes, of a white 
umbrella-bird, having himself seen a specimen, which one of 
his Indians had killed. 

On the 6th I reached the sitio of Senhor Joao Cordeiro, the 
Subdelegarde, where I stopped to breakfast ; and arranged 
with him to remain a few days at his house, on my return 
voyage, in order to skin and prepare the skeleton of a cow-fish, 
which he promised to procure for me, as they are very abundant 
in the river Urubaxi, which enters the Rio Negro just above his 
house, and where he, every year, takes great numbers with the 
net and harpoon. At breakfast we had some of the meat, 
preserved, by being boiled or fried in its own oil ; it is then 
put into large pots, and will keep many months. On taking 
my leave, he sent me a plate of the meat, and some sausages 
for my voyage. 

I here finished stuffing my Jacare, and was obliged to 
borrow a drill to make the holes to sew up the skin. I had no 
box to put it in, and no room for it in the canoe, so I tied it 
on a board, and had a palm-leaf mat made to cover it from 
rain, on the top of the tolda. Senhor Joao told us to visit his 
" cacoarie," or fish-weir, on our way down, and take what we 
found in it. We did so, and of fish only got one, a curious 
mailed species, quite new to me, and which gave me an 
afternoon's work to figure and describe. There were also five 
small red-headed turtles, which were very acceptable, and 
furnished us with dinner for several days. 

We proceeded pleasantly on our voyage, sometimes with rain 

t8si.] TAM PARROTS. 221 

and sometimes with sunshine, and often obliged to make a 
supper of farinha and water, on account of there being no land 
on which to make a fire ; but to all these inconveniences I was 
by this time well inured, and thought nothing of what, a year 
before, was a very great hardship. At the different sitios 
where I called, I often received orders for Barra ; for everybody 
whom I had once seen was, on a second encounter, an old 
friend, and would take a friend's privilege. One requested me 
to bring him a pot of turtle oil, another, a garafao of wine ; 
the Delegarde wanted a couple of cats, and his clerk a couple 
of ivory small-tooth combs ; another required gimlets, and 
another, again, a guitar. For all these articles I received not 
a vintem of payment, but was promised the money certain on 
my return, or an equivalent in coffee or tobacco, or some 
other article current in the Rio Negro. To many persons, 
with whom I had never spoken, I was nevertheless well known, 
and addressed by name ; and these would often hint that such 
and such an article they were much in want of, and, without 
directly requesting me to get it for them, would intimate that 
if I should bring it, they would be happy to purchase it of me. 
The only live animals I had with me were a couple of parrots, 
which were a never-failing source of amusement. One was a 
little " Marianna," or Macai of the Indians, a small black- 
headed, white-breasted, orange-neck and thighed parrot ; the 
other, an Anaca, a most beautiful bird, banded on the breast 
and belly with blue and red, and the back of the neck and 
head covered with long bright red feathers margined with 
blue, which it would elevate when angry, forming a hand- 
some crest somewhat similar to that of the harpy eagle ; its 
ornithological name is Derotypus acciflitrimis, the hawk-headed 
parrot. There was a remarkable difference in the characters of 
these birds. The Anaca was of a rather solemn, morose, and 
irritable disposition ; while the Marianna was a lively little 
creature, inquisitive as a monkey, and playful as a kitten. It 
was never quiet, running over the whole canoe, climbing into 
every crack and cranny, diving into all the baskets, pans, and 
pots it could discover, and tasting everything they contained. 
It was a most omnivorous feeder, eating rice, farinha, every kind 
of fruit, fish, meat, and vegetable, and drinking coffee too as well 
as myself; and as soon as it saw me with basin in hand, would 
climb up to the edge, and not be quiet without having a share, 

222 TRAVELS ON THE RIO NEGRO. [September, 

which it would lick up with the greatest satisfaction, stopping 
now and then, and looking knowingly round, as much as to say, 
" This coffee is very good," and then sipping again with increased 
gusto. The bird evidently liked the true flavour of the coffee, 
and not that of the sugar, for it would climb up to the edge of 
the coffee-pot, and hanging on the rim plunge boldly down 
till only its little tail appeared above, and then drink the coffee- 
grounds for five minutes together. The Indians in the canoe 
delighted to imitate its pretty clear whistle, making it reply and 
stare about, in a vain search after its companions. Whenever 
we landed to cook, the Marianna was one of the first on shore, 
not with any view to an escape, but merely to climb up some 
bush or tree and whistle enjoyment of its elevated position, for 
as soon as eating commenced, it came down for a share of fish 
or coffee. The more sober Anaca would generally remain 
quietly in the canoe, till, lured by the cries and whistles of 
its lively little companion, it would venture out to join it ; 
for, notwithstanding their difference of disposition, they were 
great friends, and would sit for hours side by side, scratching 
each other's heads, or playing together just like a cat and 
a kitten ; the Marianna sometimes so exasperating the Anaca by 
scratches and peckings, and by jumping down upon it, that a 
regular fight would ensue, which, however, soon terminated, 
when they would return to their former state of brotherhood. 
I intended them as presents to two friends in Barra, but was 
almost sorry to part them. 

On the 15th of September, exactly a fortnight after leaving 
Sao Joaquim, we arrived safely at Barra. The whitened houses 
and open situation of the city appeared quite charming, after 
being so long accustomed to the mud-walled, forest-buried 
villages of Rio Negro. I found that my friend Mr. Spruce 
was in the city, being a prisoner there, as I had been at Guia, 
for want of men. He occupied a house, made classic to the 
Naturalist by having been the abode of Dr. Natterer, where he 
kindly accommodated me during my stay, which I intended 
should be as short as possible. 

Bad news was awaiting me from Para. Letters, dated 
more than three months back, from my correspondent, Mr. 
Miller, informed me of the dangerous illness of my brother, 
who had been attacked by yellow fever ; and when the canoe 
left, which brought the letter, was exhibiting such symptoms as 

1 85 1.] BAD NEWS. 223 

left little hope of his recovery. The only additional informa- 
tion brought since, was that the Princess Victoria, with a 
valuable cargo, had been lost entering Para ; and that the con- 
sequent excitement and anxiety of Mr. Miller, had led to an 
attack of brain fever, which had terminated in his death. From 
no one could I obtain a word of information about my brother, 
and so remained in a state of the greatest suspense. Had he 
recovered, he would himself, of course, have written ; but, on 
the other hand, it was strange that none of the English resi- 
dents in Para had sent me a line to inform me of his death, 
had it occurred. 

I was a fortnight in Barra, busily occupied buying and sell- 
ing, and arranging and packing my miscellaneous collections. 
I had to make insect-boxes and packing-cases, the only car- 
penter in the place having taken it into his head to leave a 
good business, and, like everybody else, go trading about the 

In the evening, and at all spare moments, we luxuriated in 
the enjoyments of rational conversation, to me, at least, the 
greatest, and here the rarest of pleasures. Mr. Spruce, as well 
as myself, much wished that we could ascend together ; but 
my canoe was too small to accommodate us both, and my men 
were too few for his, loaded, as it would be, with our combined 
cargoes. No men were to be obtained at Barra for love or 
money. Even the authorities, when they require to make 
some journey on official business, are obliged, frequently, to 
beg men of Senhor Henrique or some other negociante. To 
such a state is this fine country reduced by Brazilian misrule 
and immorality ! 

Just as I was about to start, the Subdelegarde sent to inform 
me I must take a passport, an annoyance I had quite forgotten. 
However, there was no remedy, as the clerk does not like to 
lose his fee of a " crusado." I had first to get paper stamped 
(and the Stamp-office was not open), and then to go the other 
end of the city to where the clerk lived, to get the passport. 
As everything was on board and all ready, this was a great 
bore, and Senhor Henrique advised me to go without a pass- 
port, and he would send it after me. As I knew the Subdele- 
garde would not send after me to fetch me back, I took his 
advice and started. Mr. Spruce came with me for a day's trip, 
taking a couple of boys and a montaria to return in. We had 


a fine wind, which took us across the great bays above Barra ; 
and about four in the afternoon we landed on a sandy beach, 
near which were a couple of cottages. Here Mr. S. found 
some handsome new flowering shrubs and trees, and I obtained 
five specimens of a small fish, a pacu new to me, so we both 
had work till supper-time ; after which meal we hung our redes 
under the bushes as we best could, and passed an agreeable 
night. The next morning we bade each other farewell ; Mr. 
S. returning to Barra, and I pursuing my voyage up the river. 
On arriving at a sitio, where I had on the way down left my 
montaria in order that it might not be stolen in Barra, I found 
my precaution had been of no avail, as it had been stolen a 
few days before by an Indian of the Rio Branco. He had had 
his own canoe taken from him near that place, by a man going 
to the Solimoes, who tried to compel the owner to go also, and 
so, in self-defence, the Indian took mine to pursue his journey. 
I had no remedy, so we went on, trusting to buy a montaria 
somewhere shortly. We had several strong " trovoados," which 
were rather dangerous, owing to my canoe being very much 
loaded. One came on with great violence from the other side 
of the river, raising tremendous waves, which would have 
driven us on shore and broken our boat all to pieces, had there 
not luckily been some bushes in the water, to which we fastened 
prow and poop, and remained tossing and rolling about more 
than an hour, baling out the water as fast as it came in, and in 
constant fear of shipping a sea that would send us to the 

The same evening I overtook Frei Joze, who was on a 
pastoral and trading visit to Pedreiro. We stayed at the same 
place to sleep, and I went to converse a little with him in his 
canoe, which was large and commodious. Our conversation 
turning on the prevalence of the small-pox in Para, he related 
an anecdote of his own diplomatic powers with respect to that 
dreadful disease, on which he appeared to pride himself con- 

" When I was in Bolivia," said he, "there were several nations 
of very warlike Indians, who plundered and murdered travellers 
on the way to St a . Cruz. The President sent the soldiers after 
them, and spent much money in powder and ball, but with 
very little effect. The small-pox was in the city at the time, 
and the clothes of all who died of it were ordered to be burnt, 

185 1. J ^ ^ TTA CK OF FR VER. 2z$ 

to prevent infection. One day conversing with his Excellency 
about the Indians, I put him up to a much cheaper way than 
powder and ball for exterminating them. " Instead of burning 
the clothes," said I, "just order them to be put in the way of 
the Indians : they are sure to take possession of them, and 
they'll die off like wildfire. He followed my advice, and in a 
few months there was no more heard of the depredations of 
the Indians. Four or five nations were totally destroyed." 
"For," added he, "the bixiga plays the devil among the 
Indians." I could hardly help a shudder at this cool account 
of such a cold-blooded massacre, but said nothing, consoling 
myself with the idea that it was probably one of the ingenious 
fabrications of Frei Joze's fertile brain ; though it showed that 
he would look upon the reality as a very politic and laudable 

At Pedreiro I bought a couple of fine turtles, and stayed half 
a day to kill and cook one. It was very fat, so we fried almost 
all the meat and put it in a large pot with the oil, as it keeps 
a long time, and, boiled up with a little rice, makes an excellent 
dinner when fish are not to be had. The insides, all of which 
are eatable, together with the meat adhering to the upper and 
lower shell, and some of the eggs (of which there were near two 
hundred) were sufficient for all the crew for two days. At 
Carvoeiro I stayed a day to get my guns mended, some large 
hooks made, and the tolda (which the Indians had made very 
badly in Barra) repaired. Senhor Vasconcellos gave me a 
curious flat-headed species of river-tortoise I had not before 
met with ; he had kept it in a small pond two years, having 
brought it from the lower Amazon. Here I had strong 
symptoms of fever, and expected I was going to have an 
attack of the much-dreaded ' seizaos,' for which Carvoeiro 
is a noted locality. Looking after the arrangement of the 
canoe in the hot sun did not do me much good ; and 
shortly after leaving, I found myself quite knocked up, with 
headache, pains in the back and limbs, and violent fever. I 
had commenced operations that morning by taking some 
purgative medicine, and the next day I began taking doses of 
quinine, drinking plentifully cream-of-tartar water, though I 
was so weak and apathetic that at times I could hardly muster 
resolution to move myself to prepare them. It is at such 
times that one feels the want of a friend or attendant ; for of 



course it is impossible to get the Indians to do these little things 
without so much explanation and showing as would require 
more exertion than doing them oneself. By dint, however, of 
another purge, an emetic, washing and bathing, and quinine 
three times a day, I succeeded in subduing the fever ; and in 
about four days had only a little weakness left, which in a day 
or two more quite passed away. All this time the Indians 
went on with the canoe as they liked ; for during two days and 
nights I hardly cared if we sank or swam. While in that 
apathetic state I was constantly half-thinking, half-dreaming, of 
all my past life and future hopes, and that they were perhaps 
all doomed to end here on the Rio Negro. And then I 
thought of the dark uncertainty of the fate of my brother 
Herbert, and of my only remaining brother in California, who 
might perhaps ere this have fallen a victim to the cholera, 
which according to the latest accounts was raging there. But 
with returning health these gloomy thoughts passed away, and 
I again went on, rejoicing in this my last voyage, and looking 
forward with firm hope to home, sweet home ! I, however, 
made an inward vow never to travel again in such wild, 
unpeopled districts without some civilised companion or 

I had intended to skin the remaining turtle on the voyage 
and had bought a large packing-case to put it in ; but not 
having room in the canoe, it had been secured edgeways, and 
one of its feet being squeezed had begun to putrefy, so we 
were obliged to kill it at once and add the meaty parts to our 
stock of " mixira " (as meat perserved in oil is called), for 
the voyage. 

We continued our progress with a most tedious slowness, 
though without accident, till we arrived on the 29th of 
October at the sitio of Joao Cordeiro, the Subdelegarde, where 
I intended staying some days, to preserve the skin and skeleton 
of a cow-fish. I found here an old friend, Senhor Joze de 
Azevedos, who had visited us at Guia, now ill with ague, from 
which he had been suffering severely for several days, having 
violent attacks of vomiting and dysentery. As usual, he was quite 
without any proper remedies, and even such simple ones as 
cooling drinks during the fever were shunned as poison ; 
hot broths, or caxaga and peppers, being here considered the 
appropriate medicines. With the help of a few sudorifics and 

1851.] THE MA TAMA TA. 227 

purgatives, and cooling drinks and baths, with quinine between 
the fits, he soon got better, much to his astonishment, as he 
was almost afraid to submit himself to the treatment I recom- 

I spent a whole week here, for the fishermen were unsuccess- 
ful, and for five days no Peixe boi appeared. I, however, had 
plenty to do, as I skinned a small turtle and a " matamata 
\Chelys Mata?natd), that Senhor Joao gave me. This is an 
extraordinary river-tortoise, with a deeply-keeled and tubercled 
shell, and a huge flat broad head and neck, garnished with 
curious lobed fleshy appendages; the nostrils are prolonged 
into a tube, giving the animal altogether a most singular 
appearance. Some of our Indians went every day to fish, and 
I several times sent the net, and thus procured many new 
species to figure and describe, which kept me pretty constantly 
at work, the intervals being filled up by visits to my patient, 
eating water-melons, and drinking coffee. This is a fine 
locality for fish, and as far as they are concerned I should have 
liked to stay a month or two, as there were many curious and 
interesting species to be found here, which I had not yet 

At length one morning the Peixi boi we had been so long 
expecting, arrived. It had been caught the night before, with 
a net, in a lake at some distance. It was a nearly full-grown 
male, seven feet long and five in circumference. By the help 
of a long pole and cords four Indians carried it to a shed, 
where it was laid on a bed of palm-leaves, and two or three 
men set to work skinning it ; I myself operating on the 
paddles and the head, where the greatest delicacy is required, 
which the Indians are not accustomed to. After the skin was 
got off, a second operation was gone through, to take away the 
layer of fat beneath it, with which to fry the meat I intended to 
preserve ; the inside was then taken out, and the principal 
mass of meat at once obtained from the belly, back, and sides 
of the tail. This was all handed over to Senhor Joao, who 
undertook to prepare it for me ; his men being used to the 
work, from having some scores to operate upon every year. 
My Indians then cut away the remaining meat from the ribs, 
head, and arms for their own saucepans, and in a very short time 
left the skeleton tolerably bare. All this time I was at work 
myself at the paddles, and looking on to see that no bones 


were injured or carried away. I separated the skeleton into 
convenient pieces for entering into the barrel, cleaned out the 
spinal marrow, cleared off some more of the meat, and having 
sprinkled it over with salt, put it with the skin into the barrel 
to drain for the night, and left the Indians to make a good 
supper, and stuff themselves till contented. The next day, 
after arranging the skin and the bones afresh, I with some 
trouble fastened in the head of the barrel, when I found the 
brine that was in it oozing out in every direction, and soon 
discovered that the cask was riddled by little wood-boring 
beetles. The holes seemed innumerable, but I immediately 
set to work with two of my Indians, stopping them up with 
little wooden pegs. We were occupied at this some hours, and 
had pegged up I don't know how many hundred holes, till we 
could not by the closest examination discover any more. A 
huge pan of brine had been made by dissolving salt in boiling 
water, and as some of it was now cool I commenced filling 
with a funnel ; when instantly, notwithstanding all our labour, 
out trickled the liquid by a dozen unperceived holes, most of 
them situated close to, or beneath the hoops. These last 
could not be plugged, so I pushed in tow and rag under the 
hoops, to be afterwards pitched over. With the filling and 
plugging we were occupied all day ; holes constantly appearing 
in fresh places and obstinately refusing to be stopped. No- 
thing would adhere to the wet surface, so the upper part of 
the cask had to be dried, covered with pitch, then with cloth, 
and then again well pitched over. Then rolling over the 
barrel, another leaky portion was brought to the top, and 
treated in the same manner. After great labour, all seemed 
complete, yet numerous little streams still appeared ; but as 
they were very small, and their sources quite undiscoverable, 
I left them in despair, trusting that the salt or the swelling of 
the wood would stop them. By the time I got the cask carried 
up to the house and deposited in charge of Senhor Joao till 
my return, it was dusk ; and so finished two most disagree- 
able days' work with the Peixe boi. Senhor Joao had prepared 
me a pot of meat and sausages preserved in the oil, which 
I embarked, and got all ready to leave the next morning, as 
I had now been delayed a week of most valuable time. I left 
him also a box containing four species of turtles, which I had 
stuffed either here or on my voyage. 


Continuing our journey, nothing particular occurred but 
several storms of rain and wind, accompanied with thunder, 
which sometimes retarded us, and sometimes helped us on. 
Many of them were complete hurricanes, the wind shifting 
round suddenly, through every point of the compass ; so that, 
if our little canoe had not been well ballasted with her cargo 
of salt and iron, she would have capsized. Once, in particular, 
at about four in the morning, we experienced one of these 
storms in a wide part of the river, where the waves raised were 
very great, and tossed us about violently. A sudden shift of 
the wind took our sail aback, and we had great difficulty in 
getting it in. The rain was driving thickly against us, and 
rendered it bitterly cold ; our montaria, which was towed 
astern, got water-logged, plunged, and dashed against the 
canoe, tore out its benches, and lost its paddles. I gave 
orders to cast it loose, thinking it impossible to save it ; but 
the Indians thought otherwise, for one of them plunged in 
after it, and succeeded in guiding it to the shore, where we 
also with much difficulty arrived, and managed to fasten our 
bows to some bushes, and get a rope out from our stern to 
a tree growing in the water, so as to prevent the canoe from 
getting broadside to the waves, which rolled in furiously, 
keeping one of our men constantly baling out water ; and thus 
we waited for daylight. I then gave the men a cup of caxac^a 
each ; and when the sea had subsided sufficiently to allow of 
rowing, we continued our passage. These storms are the only 
things that make travelling here disagreeable : they are very 
frequent, but each succeeding one, instead of reconciling me 
to them, made me more fearful than before. It is by no 
means an uncommon thing for canoes to be swamped by them, 
or dashed to pieces on the sands ; and the Rio Negro has 
such a disagreeable notoriety for the suddenness and fury of 
its trovoados, that many persons will never put up a sail when 
there is a sign of one approaching, but seek some safe port, 
to wait till it has passed. 

Onthe 12th of November I reached the sitio of SenhorChagas, 
where I stopped for the night : he gave me some letters to 
take up to Sao Gabriel, and just as I was going, requested me, 
as a favour, to tell everybody that I had not found him at his 
sitio, but that he was gone to the " mato " to get salsa. As I 
was on familiar terms with him, I told him that really I was very 


sorry I could not oblige him, but that, as I was not accustomed 
to lying, I should be found out immediately if I attempted it : 
he, however, insisted that I might surely try, and I should soon 
learn to lie as well as the best of them. So I told him at once, 
that in my country a liar was considered as bad as a thief ; at 
which he seemed rather astonished. I gave him a short 
account of the pillory, as a proof of how much our ancestors 
detested lying and perjury, which much edified him, and he 
called his son (a nice boy of twelve or fourteen, just returned 
from school), to hear and profit by the example ; showing, I 
think, that the people here are perfectly aware of the moral 
enormity of the practice, but that constant habit and universal 
custom, and above all, that false politeness which renders 
them unable verbally to deny anything, has rendered it almost 
a necessary evil. Any native of the country would have 
instantly agreed to Senhor Chagas's request, and would then 
have told every one of it up the river, always begging them 
not to say he told them, thus telling a lie for themselves 
instead of for Senhor Chagas. 

The next morning I reached Wanawdca, the sitio of Manoel 
Jacinto, and stayed to breakfast with him, luxuriating in milk 
with my coffee, and " coalhado," or curdled milk, pine-apple, 
and pacovas with cheese, luxuries which, though every one 
might have, are seldom met with in the Rio Negro. His sitio 
is, perhaps, the prettiest on the river ; and this, simply because 
there is an open space of grass around the house, with some 
forest and fruit-trees scattered about it, affording shade for the 
cattle and sheep, and a most agreeable relief to the eye, long 
fatigued with eternal forest. 

When I consider the excessively small amount of labour 
required in this country, to convert the virgin forest into green 
meadows and fertile plantations, I almost long to come over 
with half-a-dozen friends, disposed to work, and enjoy the 
country; and show the inhabitants how soon an earthly 
paradise might be created, which they had never even con- 
ceived capable of existing. 

It is a vulgar error, copied and repeated from one book to 
another, that in the tropics the luxuriance of the vegetation 
overpowers the efforts of man. Just the reverse is the case : 
nature and the climate are nowhere so favourable to the 
labourer, and I fearlessly assert, that here, the "primeval" 


forest can be converted into rich pasture and meadow land, 
into cultivated fields, gardens, and orchards, containing every 
variety of produce, with half the labour, and, what is of more 
importance, in less than half the time than would be required 
at home, even though there we had clear, instead of forest 
ground to commence upon. It is true that ground once 
rudely cleared, in the manner of the country, by merely 
cutting down the wood and burning it as it lies, will, if left to 
itself, in a single year, be covered with a dense shrubby 
vegetation ; but if the ground is cultivated and roughly weeded, 
the trunks and stumps will have so rotted in two or three 
years, as to render their complete removal an easy matter, and 
then a fine crop of grass succeeds ; and, with cattle upon it, no 
more care is required, as no shrubby vegetation again appears. 
Then, whatever fruit-trees are planted will reach a large size in 
five or six years, and many of them give fruit in two or three. 
Coffee and cacao both produce abundantly with the mimimum 
of attention ; orange and other fruit-trees never receive any 
attention, but, if pruned, would no doubt yield fruit of a 
superior quality, in greater quantity. Pine-apples, melons, and 
water-melons are planted, and when ripe the fruit is gathered, 
there being no intermediate process whatever. Indian corn 
and rice are treated nearly in the same manner. Onions, 
beans, and many other vegetables, thrive luxuriantly. The 
ground is never turned up, and manure never applied ; if both 
were done, it is probable that the labour would be richly 
repaid. Cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs may be kept to any 
extent ; nobody ever gives them anything to eat, and they 
always do well. Poultry of all kinds thrive. Molasses may 
be easily made in any quantity, for cane put into the ground 
grows, and gives no trouble ; and I do not see why the 
domestic process used in the United States for making maple- 
sugar should not be applied here. Now, I unhesitatingly 
affirm, that two or three families, containing half-a-dozen 
working and industrious men and boys, and being able to 
bring a capital in goods of fifty pounds, might, in three years, 
find themselves in the possession of all I have mentioned. 
Supposing them to get used to the mandiocca and Indian-corn 
bread, they would, with the exception of clothing, have no one 
necessary or luxury to purchase : they would be abundantly 
supplied with pork, beef and mutton, poultry, eggs, butter, 


milk and cheese, coffee and cacao, molasses and sugar ; 
delicious fish, turtles and turtles* eggs, and a great variety of 
game, would furnish their table with constant variety, while 
vegetables would not be wanting, and fruits, both cultivated 
and wild, in superfluous abundance, and of a quality that none 
but the wealthy of our land can afford. Oranges and lemons, 
figs and grapes, melons and water-melons, jack-fruits, custard- 
apples, pine-apples, cashews, alligator pears, and mammee 
apples are some of the commonest, whilst numerous palm and 
other forest fruits furnish delicious drinks, which everybody 
soon gets very fond of. Both animal and vegetable oils can be 
procured in abundance for light and cooking. And then, 
having provided for the body, what lovely gardens and shady 
walks might not be made ! How easy to construct a natural 
orchid-house, beneath a clump of forest-trees, and collect the 
most beautiful species found in the neighbourhood ! What 
elegant avenues of palms might be formed ! What lovely 
climbers abound, to train over arbours, or up the walls of the 
house ! 

In the whole Amazon, no such thing as neatness or cultiva- 
tion has ever been tried. Walks, and avenues, and gardens 
have never been made ; but I can imagine how much beauty 
and variety might be called into existence from the gloomy 
monotony of the forest. 

" England ! my heart is truly thine, my loved, my native earth ! " 

But the idea of the glorious life which might be led here, free 
from all the money-matter cares and annoyances of civilisation, 
makes me sometimes doubt, if it would not be wiser to bid thee 
adieu for ever, and come and live a life of ease and plenty in 
the Rio Negro. 

This district is superior to any other part of the Amazon, 
and perhaps any other part of Brazil, in having a climate free 
from long droughts. In fact, the variableness of rain and 
sunshine, all the year round, is as great as in England itself; 
but it is this very thing which produces a perennial verdure. 
There are parts of the Rio Negro where the turtle, the peixe 
boi, and all sorts of fish abound ; advantages, for which many 
persons endure the tormenting " carapanas " of the Solimoes, 
but which can be had here without any insect torment, and 
with a far superior climate for agricultural purposes, 
















i8si.] A LARGE SNAKE. 23 


All cultivated products of the soil are so scarce that they 
meet with a ready sale at good prices, not only in the city of 
Barra, but also to passing traders, who have no time or means 
for cultivating them themselves. Tobacco, coffee, molasses, 
cotton, castor-oil, rice, maize, eggs, poultry, salt-meat, and fish, 
all kinds of oils, cheese, and butter, can always be sold, the 
supply being invariably below the demand, and, besides 
providing clothing and other extras, which in this climate are a 
mere trifle, might be made to produce a handsome profit. To 
do all this requires some experience and some industry ; but 
not a tithe of either which are necessary to get a bare living at 

Leaving this pleasant place about midday, we proceeded 
slowly on. One of my best Indians fell ill of fever and ague ; 
and, a few days after, another was attacked. It was in vain 
attempting, at any sitio or village, to get men to help me on 
the rest of my voyage ; no offer of extra wages would induce 
them to leave their houses ; all had some excuse of occupation 
or illness, so we were forced to creep on as well as we could. 
Two days below the Falls I bought a smaller canoe of 
a Portuguese trader, to ascend the Uaupes, and moved my 
cargo into it, leaving that of Senhor Lima with the other canoe, 
to be sent for afterwards. At Camanau, I with much difficulty, 
and some delay, procured a pilot and another Indian, to go 
with me to Sao Gabriel. There, after another day's delay, I 
found two Indians, who agreed to go as far as Sao Joaquim ; 
and after keeping me waiting three or four hours beyond the 
time appointed, absconded at night from the sitio where we 
slept, having been previously paid double wages for the whole 
distance. Here, however, I was lucky enough to get three 
more in place of the two rogues ; but as another of my Indians 
had now fallen ill, we still had few enough for passing the 
numerous rapids and rocks with which the river is obstructed. 

One day we found, coiled up on the bank, a large Sucuruju, 
the first large snake I had met with, and as I was very anxious 
to secure it, to preserve the skin, I loaded my gun, and telling 
my Indians not to let it escape, fired. It remained motionless 
some time, as if stunned by the shock, and then slowly 
began to uncoil, turning its head down towards the water, 
but evidently so much injured as to be unable to move 
its body on land. In vain I cried to the Indians to secure it : 


the pilot had been severely bitten by one some time before, 
and was afraid ; and so, instead of obeying me, they kept 
striking it with a thick stick, which only hastened its descent 
down the bank into the water, where, sinking to the bottom 
among dead trees, it was quite out of our power. As near as 
I could judge, the snake was fifteen or twenty feet long, and 
as thick as my thigh. At Sao Gabriel I saw also, on the 
rocks, asleep, one of the most deadly serpents of South 
America, the Surucucu {Lachesis matiis). It is very hand- 
somely marked with rich umber-brown, and armed with terrific 
poison-fangs, two on each side ; it is much dreaded, as its bite 
is said to be incurable. 

On leaving Sao Gabriel I was again attacked with fever, 
and on arriving at Sao Joaquim I was completely laid up. 
My Indians took the opportunity to steal a quantity of the 
caxaca I had brought for preserving the fishes, and anything 
else they could lay their hands on; so I was glad, on the 
occasion of a slight remission of the fever, to pay their wages 
and send them off. After a few days, the violence of the fever 
abated, and I thought I was going to get over it very easily ; 
but such was not the case, for every alternate day I experienced 
a great depression, with disinclination to motion : this always 
followed a feverish night, in which I could not sleep. The 
next night I invariably slept well perspiring profusely, and, the 
succeeding day, was able to move about, and had a little 
appetite. The weakness and fever, however, increased, till I 
was again confined to my rede, could eat nothing, and was 
so torpid and helpless, that Senhor L., who attended me, did 
not expect me to live. I could not speak intelligibly, and had 
not strength to write, or even to turn over in my hammock. 
A few days after this, I was attacked with severe ague, which 
recurred every two days. I took quinine for some time with- 
out any apparent effect, till, after nearly a fortnight, the fits 
ceased, and I only suffered from extreme emaciation and 
weakness. In a few days, however, the fits of ague returned, 
and now came every day. Their visits, thus frequent, were by 
no means agreeable ; as, what with the succeeding fever and 
perspiration, which lasted from before noon till night, I had 
little quiet repose. In this state I remained till the beginning 
of February, the ague continuing, but with diminished force ; 
and though with an increasing appetite, and eating heartily, 

i8si.] FEVER AND AGUE. 235 

yet gaining so little strength, that I could with difficulty stand 
alone, or walk across the room with the assistance of two 
sticks. The ague, however, now left me, and in another week, 
as I could walk with a stick down to the river-side, I went to 
Sao Gabriel, to see Mr. Spruce, who had arrived there, and 
had kindly been to see me a short time before. I purchased 
some wine and biscuits of the Commandante, and then 
returned to Sao Joaquim, determined, though the wet season 
was now again beginning, to set off for the Upper Uaupes, as 
soon as I could procure men, and get my canoe ready. 



Start for the Uaupes Sao Jeronymo and Jauarite Indians run Away 
Numerous Cataracts Reach Carurii Difficult Passage Painteo 
Malocca Devil Music More Falls Ocokf Curious Rocks Reach 
Uarucapurf Cobeu Indians Reach Muciira An Indian's House 
and Family Height above the Sea Tenente Jesuino Return to 
Uarucapurf Indian Prisoners Voyage to Jauarite Correcting the 
Calendar Delay at Sao Jeron3'mo. 

At length, on the 16th of February, two months and twenty-three 
days after my arrival at Sao Joaquim, I left on my voyage up 
the Uaupes. I was still so weak that I had great difficulty 
in getting in and out of the canoe ; but I thought I should be 
as well there as confined in the house ; and as I now longed 
more than ever to return home, I wished first to make this 
voyage, and get a few living birds and animals to take with me. 
I had seven Uaupes Indians that Senhor L. had brought from 
Sao Jeronymo, in order to take me up the river. Three more, 
who had already received payment for the voyage, did not 
appear; and, though they knew very well the time of my 
leaving, had fixed on that very day to give a feast of fish and 
caxiri. Antonio, my former pilot to Barra, was one. I met 
him coming to the village from his sitio, and he flatly refused 
to come with me, unless I waited some days more for him ; I 
therefore made him send his Macu boy, Joao, instead, to go 
and return, and so pay for what both owed. This he did, and 
we went on our way rejoicing, for Antonio was what they call 
an Indian " ladino," or crafty ; he could speak Portuguese, and, 
strongly suspecting him of being an expert thief, 1 was not 
sorry to be without his company. 

On Saturday evening, the 21st, we arrived at Sao Jeronymo, 
where I was cordially received by Senhor Augustinho. The 


next day was occupied in paying my men, and sending for 
Bernardo to conduct my canoe up the falls, and get me more 
Indians for the voyage. 

On Monday he arrived, and I let him take the canoe, but 
did not go with him, as, for some days past, the ague had again 
attacked me, and this was the day of the fit ; so I sent the two 
guardas, my head men, who could speak Portuguese, to take 
charge of the canoe and cargo, and remained myself till the 
next day. In the evening a small trader arrived from above, 
very tipsy, and an Indian informed Senhor Augustinho that it 
was with my caxaga, which the men whom I had brought 
specially to take charge of my cargo, had opened. This I next 
day found to be the case, as the seals had been broken, and 
clumsily refastened with a burning stick. These men were 
half-civilised Indians, who came with me as hunters, to inter- 
pret for me with the Indians and take charge of my goods, on 
account of which I paid them extra wages. They ate with me, 
and did not row with the other Indians ; but the temptation of 
being left alone for nearly a day, with a garafao of caxaga, was 
too strong for them. Of course I passed all over in silence, 
appearing to be perfectly ignorant of what had taken place, as, 
had I done otherwise, they would probably both have left me, 
after having received the greater part of their payment before- 
hand, and I should have been unable to proceed on my 

With Bernardo's assistance, I soon got ten paddles in my 
canoe ; and having paid most of them out of my stock of axes, 
mirrors, knives, beads, etc., we went along very briskly to 
Jauarite, where we arrived on the morning of the 28th. I was 
anxious to pass the caxoeira immediately, but was delayed, 
paying two Indians, who left me here, and procuring others ; 
so my ague fit fell upon me before we left the village, and I 
was very weak and feverish when we went to pass the falls. 
We unloaded the whole of the cargo, which had to be carried 
a considerable distance through the forest; and even then, 
pulling the canoe up the falls was a matter of great difficulty. 
There are two falls, at some distance from each other, which 
make the land-carriage very long. 

We then re-embarked, when Bernardo coolly informed me 
that he could go no further, after having received payment for 
the whole voyage. His brother, he said, should go in his 


place ; and when I returned, he would pay me what he owed 
me. So I was forced to make the best of it ; but shortly after 
I found that his brother would only go to Jacare" caxoeira, and 
thus I was a second time deceived. 

On starting, I missed Joao, and found that he had left us 
in the village, telling the guardas that he had only agreed with 
me to come so far, and they had never said a word to me 
about it till now, that it was too late. Antonio's debt therefore 
still remained unpaid, and was even increased by a knife which 
Joao had asked for, and I had given him, in order that he 
might go on the voyage satisfied. 

The river now became full of rocks, to a degree to which 
even the rockiest part of the Rio Negro was a trifle. All were 
low, and would be covered at high-water, while numbers more 
remained below the surface, and we were continually striking 
against them. That afternoon w r e passed four more falls, the 
"Uacu" (a fruit), "Uacara' " (Egret), "Muciira" (Opossum), 
and " Japdna " (oven) caxoeiras. At Uacara there was a 
malocca of the same name ; and at Japona another, where we 
passed the night. All these rapids we ascended without un- 
loading ; but the Uacara was very bad, and occasioned us 
much trouble and delay. The next morning, when about to 
start, we found that another Indian was missing : he had 
absconded in the night, and it was useless attempting to seek 
him, though we knew he had gone to Uacara Malocca, where 
he wished to stay the day before, but where all knowledge of 
him would be denied and he well hidden, had w r e returned to 
fetch him. He was one who had received full payment, making 
three who had already gone away in my debt; a not very 
encouraging beginning for my voyage. 

We passed the "Tyeassu " (Pig) caxoeira early, and then had 
a good stretch of quiet water till midday, when we reached 
the " Oomarie" (a fruit) caxoeira, where there is a sitio. Here 
we dined off a fine fresh Tucunare, which an old man sold 
me ; and I agreed with his son, by the temptation of an axe, 
to go with me. We pulled the canoe up this rapid without 
unloading, which is seldom done, except when the river is 
low, as it now was. The rest of the day we had quiet water, 
and stopped at a rock to make our supper and sleep. 

March ist. We passed the " Macaco " (monkey) caxoeira 
early. The rocks here, and particularly about Oomarie 


caxoeira, were so full of parallel veins, as to give them the 
appearance of being stratified and thrown up nearly vertically ; 
whereas they are granitic, and similar to those we had already 
seen. We then soon reached the " Ira n (Honey) and 
" Baccaba " (a Palm) caxoeiras ; at both of which there are 
figures or picture-writings on the rocks, which I stayed to 
sketch. In passing the latter rapid, we knocked off one of 
the false keels I had had put to the canoe previous to starting, 
to preserve the bottom in the centre, where it was worn very 
thin by being dragged over the rocks by its former owner. 
We therefore stopped at a sandbank, unloaded the canoe, 
and plugged up the nail-holes, which were letting in water very 

The next day we passed in succession the "Arara Miri" 
(Little Macaw),. "Tamaquerie" (Gecko), "Paroquet," "Japoo" 
(a bird), "Arara" (Macaw), " Tatii " (Armadillo), "Amana" 
(Rain), " Camoa " (?), " Yauti " (Tortoise) ; and, finally, about 
three p.m., arrived at "Caruru " (a water-plant) caxoeira. The 
last five of these, before arriving at Carurii, were exceedingly 
bad ; the passage being generally in the middle of the river, 
among rocks, where the water rushes furiously. The falls 
were not more than three or four feet each ; but, to pull a 
loaded canoe up these, against the foaming waters of a large 
river, was a matter of the greatest difficulty for my dozen 
Indians, their only resting-place being often breast-deep in 
water, where it was a matter of wonder that they could stand 
against the current, much less exert any force to pull the 
canoe. At Arara fall, the usual passage is over the dry rock, 
and we unloaded for that purpose ; but all the efforts of the 
Indians could not get the heavy canoe up the steep and rugged 
ascent which was the only pathway. Again and again they 
exerted themselves, but to no purpose ; and I was just sending 
by an old man, who was passing in a small canoe, to Caruru 
for assistance, when he suggested that by getting a long sipo 
(the general cable in these rivers) we might obtair a good 
purchase, to pull the canoe up the margin of the fall, which 
we had previously tried without success. We accordingly did 
so, and by great exertions the difficulty was passed, much to 
my satisfaction, as sending to Caruru would have occasioned 
a great and very annoying delay. 

The river from Jauarite may be said to average about a 


third of a mile wide, but the bends and turns are innumerable ; 
and at every rapid it almost always spreads out into such deep 
bays, and is divided into channels by so many rocks and 
islands, as to make one sometimes think that the water is 
suddenly flowing back in a direction contrary to that it had 
previously been taking. Caruru caxoeira itself is greater than 
any we had yet seen, rushing amongst huge rocks down a 
descent of perhaps fifteen or twenty feet. The only way of 
passing this, was to pull the canoe over the dry rock, which 
rose considerably above the level of the water, and was rather 
rugged, being interrupted in places by breaks or steps two 
or three feet high. The canoe was accordingly unloaded, 
quantities of poles and branches cut and laid in the path to 
prevent the bottom being much injured by the rocks, and a 
messenger sent to the village on the other side of the river 
to request the Tushaua to come with plenty of men to our 
assistance. He soon arrived with eleven Indians, and all 
hands set to work pushing the canoe, or pulling at the sipos ; 
and even then, the strength of five-and-twenty persons could 
only move it by steps, and with great difficulty. However, it 
was at length passed, and we then proceeded to the village, 
where the Tushaua lent us a house. 

The canoe was so weak in the bottom in one place, that 
I was fearful of some accident in my descent, so I determined 
to stay here two or three days, to cut out the weak part and 
put in a strong board. I now also saw that this canoe was 
much too heavy to proceed further up the river, as at many 
of the falls there was no assistance to be obtained, even in 
places as difficult to pass as Caruru ; so I opened negotiations 
to purchase a very large " oba" of the Tushaua, which, before 
leaving, I effected for an axe, a shirt and trousers, two cutlasses, 
and some beads. We were delayed here five entire days, owing 
to the difficulty of finding a tree of good wood sufficiently 
large to give a board of twelve or fourteen inches wide ; and 
at last I was obliged to be content with two narrow boards, 
clumsily inserted, rather than be exposed to more delay. 

There was a large malocca here, and a considerable number 
of houses. The front of the malocca was painted very taste- 
fully in diamonds and circles, with red, yellow, white, and 
black. On the rocks were a series of strange figures, of which 
I took a sketch. The Indians were of the " Ananas " or Pine- 

1852.] DEVIL-MUSIC. 241 

apple tribe; I bought some dresses and feather ornaments of 
them ; and fish, mandiocca-cakes, etc., were brought me in 
considerable quantities, the articles most coveted in return 
being fish-hooks and red beads, of both of which I had a large 
stock. Just below the fall, the river is not more than two or 
three hundred yards wide ; while above, it is half a mile, and 
contains several large islands. 

The large black pacu was abundant here, and, with other 
small fish, was generally brought us in sufficient quantity to 
prevent our recurring to fowls, which are considered by the 
traders to be the most ordinary fare a man can live on. I 
now ate for the first time the curious river-weed, called caruru, 
that grows on the rocks. We tried it as a salad, and also 
boiled with fish ; and both ways it was excellent ; boiled, it 
much resembled- spinach. 

Here, too, I first saw and heard the "Juripari," or Devil- 
music of the Indians. One evening there was a caxiri-drinking ; 
and a little before dusk a sound as of trombones and bassoons 
was heard coming on the river towards the village, and 
presently appeared eight Indians, each playing on a great 
bassoon-looking instrument. They had four pairs, of different 
sizes, and produced a wild and pleasing sound. They blew 
them all together, tolerably in concert, to a simple tune, and 
showed more taste for music than I had yet seen displayed 
among these people. The instruments are made of bark 
spirally twisted, and with a mouthpiece of leaves. 

In the evening I went to the malocca, and found two old 
men playing on the largest of the instruments. They waved 
them about in a singular manner, vertically and sideways, 
accompanied by corresponding contortions of the body, and 
played a long while in a regular tune, accompanying each other 
very correctly. From the moment the music was first heard, 
not a female, old or young, was to be seen ; for it is one of the 
strangest superstitions of the Uaupes Indians, that they con- 
sider it so dangerous for a woman ever to see one of these 
instruments, that having done so is punished with death, 
generally by poison. Even should the view be perfectly 
accidental, or should there be only a suspicion that the pro- 
scribed articles have been seen, no mercy is shown ; and it is 
said that fathers have been the executioners of their own 
daughters, and husbands of their wives, when such has been 



the case. I was of course anxious to purchase articles to 
which such curious customs belong, and spoke to the Tushaua 
on the subject. He at length promised to sell them me on 
my return, stipulating that they were to be embarked at some 
distance from the village, that there might be no danger of 
their being seen by the women. 

On the morning previous to that on which we were to leave, 
two more of our Indians who had received full payment on 
starting, were discovered to have left us. They had taken 
possession of a canoe, and absconded in the night ; leaving me 
no remedy, but the chance of finding them in their houses on 
my return, and the still more remote chance of their having 
anything to pay me with. 

The Indians here have but little characteristic distinction 
from those below. The women wear more beads around their 
necks and arms. The lower lip is often pierced, and two or 
three little strings of white beads inserted ; but as the nations 
are so mixed by inter-marriages, this custom is probably derived 
from the Tucanos. Some of the women and children wore 
two garters, one above the ankle and one below the knee 
swelling out the calf enormously, which they consider a very 
great beauty. I did not see here so many long tails of hair ; 
most of the men having probably been to the Rio Negro with 
some trader, and thence worn their hair like "Christians ; or 
perhaps because the last Tushaua was a " homen muito 
civilizado " (a very well-bred person). 

After four days' delay, we at length started, with a com- 
paratively small complement of Indians, but with some extra 
men to assist us in passing several caxoeiras, which occur near 
at hand. These are the " Pirewa " (Wound), " Uacoroua " 
(Goat-sucker), "Maniwara" (White Ant), "Matapi" (Fish- 
trap), "Amana" (Rain), " Tapiracunga " (Tapir's head), 
"Tapfra eura" (Tapir's mouth), and "Jacare" (Alligator). 
Three of these were very bad, the canoe having to be unloaded 
entirely, and pulled over the dry and uneven rocks. The last 
was the highest ; the river rushing furiously about twenty feet 
down a rugged slope of rock. The loading and unloading of 
the canoe three or four times in the course of as many hours, 
is a great annoyance. Baskets of farinha and salt, of mandiocca- 
cakes and pacovas, are strewn about. Panellas are often 
broken ; and when there comes a shower of rain, everything 


has to be heaped together in a hurry, palm-leaves cut, and 
the more perishable articles covered ; but boxes, redes, and 
numerous other articles are sure to be wetted, rendering us 
very uncomfortable when again hastily tumbled into the over- 
crowded canoe. If I had birds or insects out drying, they were 
sure to be overturned, or blown by the wind, or wetted by the 
rain, and the same fate was shared by my note-books and 
papers. Articles in boxes, unless packed tight, were shaken 
and rumpled by not being carried evenly ; so that it was an 
excellent lesson in patience, to bear all with philosophical 
serenity. We had passed all these falls by midday ; and at 
night slept on a rock, where there was a small rapid and a 
house without inhabitants. 

On the 8th we had tolerably quiet water, with only two 
small rapids, the " Taiena " (Child), and " Paroquet " caxoeiras. 
On the 9th, in the morning, we reached the " Pacu " fall, and 
then had a quiet stream, though full of rocks, till the afternoon, 
when we passed the "Macucu" (a tree), "Anacas" (Pine- 
apple), and " Uacu " (a fruit) caxoeiras ; all very -bad and 
difficult ones. We had left Caruru with very little farinha, as 
none was to be had there, and we had seen no inhabited sitios 
where any could be purchased ; so our Indians were now on 
short allowance of "beiju," which they had brought with them. 
Of a passing Indian I bought a basket of Ocoki, and some 
fish. The Ocoki is a large pear-shaped fruit, with a hard thick 
outer skin of almost a woody texture, then a small quantity of 
very sweet pulpy matter, and within a large black oval stone. 
The pulp is very luscious, but is so acrid as to make the mouth 
and throat sore, if more than two or three are eaten. When, 
however, the juice is boiled it loses this property ; and when 
made into mingau with tapioca, is exceedingly palatable and 
very highly Esteemed in the Upper Rio Negro, where it is 
abundant. It takes at least a peck of fruit to give one small 
panella of mingau. 

On the next day, the 10th, in the afternoon, the Indians all 
suddenly sprang like otters into the water, swam to the shore, 
and disappeared in the forest. " Ocoki," was the answer to my 
inquiries as to the cause of their sudden disappearance ; and I 
soon found they had discovered an ocoki-tree, and were load- 
ing themselves with the fruit to satisfy the cravings of hunger, 
for an Indian's throat and mouth seem invulnerable to all those 


scarifying substances which act upon civilised man. The tree 
is one of the loftiest in the forest, but the fruit falls as soon as 
ripe, and its hard woody coating preserves it from injury. 
Baskets, shirts, trousers, etc., were soon filled with the fruit 
and emptied into the canoe ; and I made each of the Indians 
bring a small basketful for me ; so that we had " mingau de 
ocoki " for three succeeding mornings. 

The rocks from Carurii often present a scoriaceous appear- 
ance, as if the granite had been remelted. Sometimes they 
are a mass of burnt fragments, sometimes a honeycombed rock 
with a shining surface. In some places there are enclosed 
fragments of a finer-grained rock, apparently sandstone, and 
numerous veins and dykes, which often cross each other in 
three or four sets. The rocks are, in many places, so broken 
and cleft vertically, as to appear stratified and thrown up on 
end. The rounded form and concentric arrangement, observed 
in the Rio Negro, is here also constantly met with. The 
interstices of the rounded and angular masses of rock are often 
filled with a curious volcanic substance, which outwardly re- 
sembles pitch, but consists of scoriae, sand, clays, etc., variously 
cemented together. 

On the ioth we passed the " Tapioca," "Tucano " (Toucan), 
" Tucunare " (a fish), " Uaracu pinimi " (a fish), and " Tyeassii " 
(Pig) caxoeiras. The first was very bad, and both difficult and 
dangerous to pass ; it consisted of many distinct falls among 
huge masses of rock. At one place the canoe remained stuck 
fast, amidst foaming waters, on the very edge of a fall, for 
nearly an hour ; all the efforts of the . Indians could not move 
it forward. They heaved it over from one side to the other, 
but with no effect ; till I began to despair of getting out of the 
difficulty before night. At last the canoe suddenly moved on, 
with apparently not so much force as had been before applied 
to it ; but my Indians, being of several nations, did not under- 
stand any common language, and it was impossible to get them 
to act in concert, or obey any leader. It was probably some 
chance combination of forces, that at last extricated us from 
our unpleasant situation. At this fall, on the rocks, were very 
numerous figures, or picture-writings, and I stopped to make 
drawings of them ; of which I had by this time a rather ex- 
tensive collection. 

The next three falls were small rapids but the last, which 

1852.] CURIOUS ROCKS. 245 

we reached late in the evening, was fearful. The river makes 
a sudden bend, and is confined in a very narrow channel, which 
is one confused mass of rocks of every size and shape, piled on 
one another, and heaped up in the greatest possible confusion. 
Every stone which rises above high-water mark is covered 
with vegetation ; and among the whole the river rushes and 
foams, so as to make the task of pilot one of no ordinary 
difficulty. Just as it was getting dark, we passed out of these 
gloomy narrows into a wider and more cheerful part of the 
river, and stayed at a rock to sup and sleep. 

On the nth, early, we reached Uarucapuri, where are a 
village and several maloccas. The first which we entered was 
inhabited by people of the Cobeu nation. There were about 
a dozen handsome men, all clean-limbed and well painted, with 
armlets and necklaces of white beads, and with the ears plugged 
with a piece of wood the size of a common bottle-cork, to the 
end of which was glued a piece of porcelain presenting a white 
shining surface. We agreed with these men to help to pass 
our canoe up the falls, and then proceeded on our walk 
through the village. My old friend Senhor Chagas was here, 
and with him I breakfasted off a fine pirahiba which his men 
had caught that morning, and which was the first I had eaten 
since my illness. 

With some difficulty I succeeded in buying two or three 
baskets of farinha ; and being anxious to get to my journey's 
end, which was now near at hand, about midday we proceeded. 
Our pilot and his son left us, and we had now only six paddles ; 
but four or five additional men came with us to pass the re- 
maining caxoeiras, which were near. Close to the village we 
passed the " Cururu " (a toad), and " Murucututu " (an owl) falls, 
both rather bad ; and, soon after, arrived at the " Uacoroiia " 
(Goatsucker), the last great fall on the river below the " Juru- 
pari," which is many days further up. Here the river is 
precipitated over a nearly vertical rock, about ten feet high, 
and much broken in places. The canoe had to be entirely 
unloaded, and then pulled up over the rocks on the margin 
of the fall, a matter of considerable difficulty. To add to our 
discomfort, a shower of rain came on while the canoe was 
passing ; and the Indians, as usual, having scattered the cargo 
about in great confusion, it had to be huddled together and 
covered with mats and palm-leaves, till the shower, which was 


luckily a short one, passed over. Loading again and proceeding 
onwards, we passed three small rapids, the " Tatu " (Armadillo), 
"Ocokf" (a fruit), and "Pirantera" (a fish) caxoeiras ; and our 
additional Indians here left us, with their payment of fish-hooks 
and arrow-heads, as we now had only smooth water before us. In 
the afternoon we passed a malocca, where one of the Indians 
wished to land to see his friends ; and as we did not stay, at 
night he took his departure, and w r e saw no more of him. 

Early the next morning we reached Mucura, where two 
young Brazilians, whom I had met with below, were residing, 
trading for salsa. I was now in the country of the painted 
turtle and the white umbrella-bird, and I determined to make 
a stay of at least a fortnight, to try and obtain these much- 
desired rarities. 

Messrs. Nicolau and Bellarmine were both out, and their little 
palm-leaf huts were evidently quite inadequate to my accom- 
modation. The only other house was a small Indian malocca, 
also made entirely of " palha ;" and I agreed with the owner 
to let me have half of it, giving him a small knife and mirror 
in payment, with which he was well contented. We accordingly 
cleared and swept out our part of the house, unloaded and 
arranged our things, and I then sent my guardas to a malocca, 
in which there were said to be plenty of Indians, to see if they 
had any farinha or pacovas to dispose of; and also to let them 
know that I would purchase birds, or fish, or any other 
animals they could obtain for me. The men were all out; 
but the same afternoon they came in great force to see the 
" Branco," and make an attack on my fish-hooks and beads, 
bringing me fish, pacovas, farinha, and mandiocca-cake, for all 
of which one of these two articles was asked in exchange. 

I was now settled at the limit of my expedition, for I could 
not think of going a week further up only to see Jurupari 
caxoeira, wasting the little time I had to rest, before again 
descending. We had made a favourable voyage, without any 
serious accident, up a river perhaps unsurpassed for the 
difficulties and dangers of its navigation. We had passed fifty 
caxoeiras, great and small ; some mere rapids, others furious 
cataracts, and some nearly perpendicular falls. About twenty 
were rapids, up which, by the help of a long sipd attached to 
the canoe, instead of a rope, we were pulled without much 
difficulty. About eighteen were very bad and dangerous, re- 

1852.] AN INDIAN FAMILY. 247 

quiring the canoe to be partially unloaded where practicable, 
and all the exertions of my Indians, often with additional 
assistance, to pass ; and twelve were so high and furious as to 
require the canoe to be entirely unloaded, and either pulled 
over the dry and often very precipitous rocks, or with almost 
equal difficulty up the margin of the fall. At Carurii, as I 
have said, four-and-twenty men were scarcely able to pull my 
empty canoe over the rock, though plentifully strewn with 
branches and bushes, to smooth the asperities which would 
otherwise much damage the bottom : this was the reason why 
I purchased the Tushaua's smaller oba, to proceed; and it 
was well I did, or I might otherwise have had to return without 
ever reaching the locality I had at length attained. 

The next day, the 13th, I was employed drawing some 
new fish brought me the preceding evening. My hunters 
went out and brought me nothing but a common hawk. In 
the afternoon, the father and brother of the Indian I had 
found in the house, arrived, with their wives and families ; so 
now, with my six Indians and two hunters, we were pretty 
full ; some of them, however, slept in a shed, and we were as 
comfortably accommodated as could be expected. The wives 
of the father and two sons were perfectly naked, and were, 
moreover, apparently quite unconscious of the fact. The old 
woman possessed a "saia," or petticoat, which she sometimes 
put on, and seemed then almost as much ashamed of herself 
as civilised people would be if they took theirs off. So power- 
ful is the effect of education and habit ! 

Having been told by Senhor Chagas that there was an 
excellent hunter in the Codiari, a river which enters from the 
north a short distance above Muciira, I sent Philippe, one of 
my guardas, to try and engage him, and also to buy all the 
living birds and animals he could meet with. The following 
day he returned, bringing with him one " Macaco barrigudo " 
(Lagotkrix Humboldtii), and a couple of parrots. On most 
days I had a new fish or two to figure, but birds and insects 
were very scarce. This day Senhor Nicolau returned. On 
my first arrival I had been told that he had a "tataruga 
pintata " (painted turtle) for me, but that he would give it me 
himself on his arrival ; so I did not meddle with it, though my 
Indians saw it in a " corral," in a small stream near the house. 
On arriving, he sent to fetch it, but found it had escaped, 


though it had been seen in its cage on the preceding day. I 
thus lost perhaps my only chance of obtaining a much-desired 
and probably undescribed river turtle, as the time of egg-laying 
was past, and they had now retired into the lakes, and become 
very scarce and difficult to be met with. 

As my Indians were here doing nothing, I sent three of 
them with Sebastiao up the Codiarf, with beads, hooks, mirrors, 
etc., to buy monkeys, parrots, or whatever else they could 
meet with, as well as some farinha, which I did not wish to be 
in want of again. I sent them with instructions to go for five 
or six days, in order to reach the last stitio, and purchase all 
that was to be had. In two days, however, they returned, 
having been no further than Philippe had gone, Sebastiao 
saying that his companions would not go on. He brought me 
some parrots and small birds, bows, bird-skins, and more 
farinha than my canoe would carry, all purchased very dearly, 
judging by the remnant of articles brought back. 

Being now in a part of the country that no European 
traveller had ever before visited, I exceedingly regretted my 
want of instruments to determine the latitude, longitude, and 
height above the sea. The two last I had no means whatever 
of ascertaining, having broken my boiling-point thermometer, 
and lost my smaller one, without having been able to replace 
either. I once thought of sealing up a flask of air, by accurately 
weighing which on my return, the density of air at that 
particular time would be obtained, and the height at which a 
barometer would have stood might be deduced. But, besides 
that this would only give a result equal to that of a single 
barometer observation, there were insuperable difficulties in 
the way of sealing up the bottle, for whether sealing-wax or 
pitch were used, or even should the bottle be hermetically 
sealed, heat must be applied, and at the moment of application 
would, of course, rarefy the air within the bottle, and so produce 
in such a delicate operation very erroneous results. My 
observations, however, on the heights of the falls we passed, 
would give their sum as about two hundred and fifty feet ; now 
if we add fifty for the fall of the river between them, we shall 
obtain three hundred feet, as the probable height of the point 
I reached above the mouth of the river ; and, as I have every 
reason to believe that that is not five hundred feet above the 
sea, we shall obtain eight hundred feet as the probable limit oif 


the height of the river above the sea-level, at the point I 
reached. Nothing, however, can accurately determine this fact, 
but a series of barometer or " boiling-point " observations ; and 
to determine this height above the next great fall, and ascertain 
the true course and sources of this little-known but interesting 
and important river, would be an object worth the danger and 
expense of the voyage. 

There is said to be a week's smooth water above this place, 
to the Jurupari caxoeira, which is higher than any below it ; 
and above this no other fall has been found, though traders 
have been ten or fifteen days up. They say the river still keeps 
as wide or wider than below, that the water is as " white," or 
muddy, as that of the Solimoes, that many trees, birds, and 
fish peculiar to the Solimoes are there found, that the Indians 
have Spanish knives, ponchos, and coins, and relate that, 
higher up, there are extensive " campos," with cattle, and men 
on horseback. All these interesting particulars seem to show 
that the river has its sources in the great plains which extend 
to the base of the Andes, somewhere near where the sources of 
the Guaviare are placed in most maps; but the latter river, 
from all the information I can obtain, is much smaller, and 
has a much shorter course. Having only a pocket surveying 
sextant, without any means of viewing two objects much 
differing in brilliancy, I endeavoured to obtain the latitude as 
accurately as I could, first by means of the zenith-distance at 
noon, obtained by a plumb-line and image of the sun, formed 
by a lens of about fifteen inches focus ; and afterwards, by the 
meridian altitude of a star, obtained on a calm night, by 
reflection in a cuya of water. I took much care to ensure an 
accurate result, and have every reason to believe that the mean 
of the two observations will not be more than two or three 
minutes from the truth. 

My expectations of finding rare and handsome birds here 
were quite disappointed. My hunter and Senhor Nicolau 
killed a few umbrella-birds of the Rio Negro species ; but of 
the white bird such contradictory statements were given, 
many knowing nothing whatever about it, others saying that it 
was sometimes, but very rarely seen, that I am inclined to 
think it is a mere white variety, such as occurs at times with 
our blackbirds and starlings at home, and as are sometimes 
found among the curassow-birds and agoutis. Another bird, 


which I had been long searching for, the " anambe de catinga," 
a species of Cyanurus, was here shot ; and before leaving, I 
obtained four or five specimens of it, and as many of the 
commoner black-headed species. One or two small birds, new 
to me, were also obtained ; and these, with two or three scarce 
butterflies, and about a dozen new species of fish, composed 
my natural-history collections in this remote and unvisited 
district. This was entirely owing, however, to my unfortunate 
and unforeseen illness, for birds in great variety had been very 
abundant, but the time of the fruit was now over ; fish and 
turtles, too, were in extraordinary plenty at the commencement 
of the fall of the river, two months back; and during that 
period, constituting the short summer in these districts, while I 
lay half dead at Sao Joaquim, insects were doubtless more 

But as there w r as now no remedy I made myself as contented 
as I could, and endeavoured at least to complete my collection 
of the arms, implements, and ornaments of the natives. The 
Indians here were mostly "Cobeus," and I obtained several of 
their peculiar ornaments and dresses, to add to my collection. 
I also took advantage of the visit of a Tushaiia, or chief, who 
well understood the Lingoa Geral, to obtain a vocabulary of 
their language. 

Just as I was about to leave on my voyage down, I received a 
note from Senhor Chagas, requesting, in the name of Tenente 
Jesuino, the loan of my canoe, to ascend higher up the river ; 
which, as the time of his stay was very uncertain, I was 
obliged to refuse. This Tenente, an ignorant half-breed, was 
sent by the new Barra government to bring all the Tushaiias, 
or chiefs, of the Uaupes and Isanna rivers to Barra, to receive 
diplomas and presents. An Indian, sent by him, had arrived at 
Caruni caxoeira, and wished to buy the oba* of the Tushaiia, 
after I had paid for and got possession of it, and even had the 
impudence to request me to give it back again, in order that 
he might purchase or borrow it ; and my refusal was, of course, 
quite sufficient seriously to offend the said Tenente. 

On the 25th, having been just a fortnight at Muciira, I left, 
much disappointed with regard to the collections I had made 
there. The same day I reached Uarucapuri, whence I could 
not proceed without a pilot, as the falls below are very 
dangerous. There was hardly a male in the village, Messrs. 


Jesuino and Chagas having taken all with them up the river, to 
assist in an attack on an Indian tribe, the " Carapanas," where 
they hoped to get a lot of women, boys, and children, to take as 
presents to Barra. There was scarcely anything to be had to 
eat : fish were not to be caught, though we sent our Indians 
out every day ; and though fowls were abundant, their owners 
were out, and those in charge of them would not sell them. 
At length, after four days, I succeeded in persuading the son 
of the Tushaiia to go with me as pilot to Jauarite, he not being 
able to resist the knives, beads, and mirror, which I spread 
out before him. 

I had collected scarcely anything in this place, but a single 
specimen of the beautiful and rare topaz-throated hummer 
{Trochilus pyra) and a new butterfly of the genus Callithea. 
I heard of the handsome bronze Jacana being found here, but 
my hunters searched for it in vain. 

On the morning after we left, we saw a fine deer on a sand- 
bank near us, so I sent Manoel into the forest to get behind 
it, while we remained quietly watching from the canoe. After 
walking about the beach a short time, it took to the water to 
cross the river, when we followed in pursuit; and, notwith- 
standing its turnings and doublings, soon came up, when the 
poor animal was despatched by a blow on the head, and pulled 
into the canoe. The Indians then went briskly on, rejoicing 
in the certainty of a dinner for the next day or two, in which 
I heartily joined them. At Tapioca caxoeira we stayed two 
hours, to cook and salt the deer, and descended the fall without 
any accident. 

On April 1st we passed a host of falls, shooting most of 
them amidst fearful waves and roaring breakers, and arrived 
safely at Carurii, where the Tushaiia gave us his house ; for, 
having two canoes, we were obliged to wait to get more 
Indians. I was still too weak to go out into the forest ; and, 
besides, had my live stock to attend to, which now consisted 
of four monkeys, about a dozen parrots, and six or eight small 
birds. It was a constant trouble to get food for them in 
sufficient variety, and to prevent them from escaping. Most 
of the birds are brought up without being confined, and if 
placed in a cage, attempt constantly to get out, and refuse 
food till they die ; if, on the other hand, they are loose, they 
wander about to the Indians' houses, or into the forest, and 


are often lost. I here had two new toldas made to my canoes, 
but all attempts to hire men were fruitless. Fowls and fish 
were tolerably abundant, so we were better off than at 

On the 4th, in the afternoon, Senhors Jesuino and Chagas 
arrived with a whole fleet of canoes, and upwards of twenty 
prisoners, all, but one, women and children. Seven men and 
one woman had been killed ; the rest of the men escaped ; 
but only one of the attacking party was killed. The man was 
kept bound, and the women and children well guarded, and 
every morning and evening they were all taken down to the 
river to bathe. At night there w r as abundance of caxiri and 
caxac,a drunk in honour of the new-comers, and all the 
inhabitants assembled in the great house. I spoke to Jesuino 
about obtaining some Indians for me, which he promised to 
do. Next morning, however, his first act w r as to summon my 
pilot, and scold him for coming with me at all, frightening 
the poor fellow so, that he immediately went off with his 
father down the river. Before he had left, however, having 
been told by my guardas what w r as going on, I applied to 
Jesuino about the matter, when he denied having said anything 
to the pilot, but refused to call him back, or make him fulfil 
his engagement with me. Soon after Jesuino left, having first 
sent five Indians to take me to Jauarite ; so I started immedi- 
ately after him. The men, however, had had instructions to go 
with me only a short distance, and then leave me where I 
could not procure any more ; and about noon, much to my 
surprise, they got into a little oba, and intimated their intention 
to return, saying that they had only been told to come so far. 
I had overtaken Jesuino at this place, and now appealed to 
him ; but though the men would have immediately obeyed an 
order from him he refused to give it, telling me that he had 
put them in my canoe, and now I must arrange with them as 
well as I could. I accordingly told the Indians, that if they 
came on with me to Jauarite, I w r ould pay them well, but that, 
if they left me at this place, they should not have a single 
fish-hook ; but they knew very w r ell what Senhor Jesuino 
wanted, so without another word they paddled off, leaving me 
to get on as I could. I had now only one man and one boy 
in each canoe, to pass rapids which required six or eight good 
paddles to shoot with safety ; but staying here was useless, so 


we went on, drifting down the stream after Senhor Jesuino, 
who, no doubt, rejoiced in the idea that I should probably lose 
my canoes, if not my life, in the caxoeiras, and thought himself 
well revenged on the stranger who had dared to buy the canoe 
he had wanted to purchase. 

In the afternoon we passed a caxoeira with considerable 
danger, and then, luckily, persuaded some Indians at a sitio to 
come with us to Jauarite. In the afternoon I stayed at several 
houses, purchasing fowls, parrots, bows and arrows and 
feathers ; and at one of them I found my runaway pilot, and 
made him give me two baskets of farinha, instead of the pay- 
ment he had received for the voyage from Carurii to Jauarite. 
At the last caxoeira, close to Jauarite, we were very near losing 
our canoe, which was let down by a rope, I remaining in it ; 
but just in passing, it got twisted broadside, and the water 
rushing up from the bottom, had the curious effect of pushing 
it up against the fall, where it remained a considerable time 
completely on one side, and appearing as if every minute it 
would turn over. However, at last it was got out, and we 
reached the village, much to the surprise of Senhor Jesuino, 
who had arrived there but a few hours before us. My friend 
Senhor Augustinho, of Sao Jeronymo, was also there, and I 
spent the evening pleasantly with them. 

I found that we differed in our calculations of the date, 
there being a day's difference in our reckonings of the day of 
the week and the day of the month. As I had been three 
months up the river, it was to be supposed I was wrong ; yet 
as I had kept a regular diary all the voyage, I could not at all 
make out how I had erred. This, however, is a common thing 
in these remote districts. When two parties meet, one going 
up and the other coming down the river, the first inquiry of 
the latter, after the usual compliments, is, " What day is it 
with you ? " and it not unfrequently happens, that there are 
three parties present, all of whom make it different days ; and 
then there is a comparison of authorities, and a determination 
of past Saints' days, in order to settle the correction of the 
disputed calendar. When at Caturu caxoeira, we had found 
that Messrs. Jesuino and Chagas differed from us on this 
important particular ; but as they had been some time out, 
we thought they might have erred as well as ourselves. Now, 
however, that Senhor Augustinho, who had recently come from 


Sao Gabriel, whence he had brought the correct date, agreed 
with them, there was no withstanding such authority. A 
minute examination of my diary was made, and it was then 
found that on our first stay at Caruru we had reckoned our 
delay there as five days instead of six. The Indians generally 
keep accounts of the time very accurately on a voyage, by 
cutting notches on a stick, as boys do at school on the 
approach of the holidays. In our case, however, even they 
were most of them wrong, for some of them agreed with me, 
while others made a day in advance, and others again a day 
behind us, so that we got completely confused. Sometmies 
the traders residing at the Indian villages pass many months, 
without seeing a person from any civilised part, and get two 
or three days out in their reckonings. Even in more populous 
places, where all the inhabitants depend on the priest or the 
commandante, errors have been made, and Sundays and Saints' 
days have been desecrated, while Mondays and common days 
have been observed in their place, much to the horror of all 
good Catholics. 

The next morning I took a turn round the village, bought 
some paroquets and parrots, and some feather ornaments and 
small pots, of the Tushaua ; and then, having nothing to keep 
me at Jauarite, and having vainly endeavoured to get some 
Indians to go with me, I left for Sao Jeronymo. On arriving 
at the first great fall of Pinupimi, we found only one Indian, ' 
and were obliged to send to the village for more. That 
afternoon they did not cnoose to come, and we lost a beautiful 
day. The next morning, as was to be expected, commenced 
a soaking rain ; but as the Indians arrived we went on, and 
about noon, the rain clearing off a little, we passed the fall 
of Panore, and arrived safely at the village of Sao Jeronymo. 
Here we disembarked, and unloaded our canoes, taking 
possession of the doorless " casa da nacao," and made up our 
minds to remain quietly till we should get men to go down 
the river. 

The same afternoon Jesuino arrived, and the next morning 
left, kindly inquiring when I intended to proceed, and saying, 
he had spoken with the Tushaua to get me Indians. In two 
days, however, the Tushaua also left for Barra, without giving 
me a single Indian, notwithstanding the promises and threats 
I had alternately employed. 


The two Indians who had remained with me now left, and 
the two boys who had come from Sao Joaquim ran away, 
leaving me alone in my glory, with my two "guardas" and 
two canoes. In vain I showed my axes, knives, beads, mirrors, 
and cloth, to every passing Indian ; not one could be induced 
to go with me, and I might probably have remained prisoner 
there for months, had not Senhor Victorino, the " Juiz de Paz," 
arrived, and also Bernado, my old pilot, who had left me at 
Jauarite, and had now been down to Sao Joaquim. Between 
them, after a delay of several more days, some Indians were 
persuaded to receive payment to go with me as far as 
Castanheiro, where I hoped to get Capitao Ricardo to order 
them on to Barra. 



Voyage down the Rio Negro A- rive at Barra Obtaining a Passport 
State of the City Portuguese and Brazilian Enterprise System of 
Credit Trade Immorality, and its Causes Leave Barra A Storm 
on the Amazon Sarsaparilla A Tale about Death Para The 
Yellow Fever Sail for England Ship takes Fire Ten Days in 
the Boats Get picked up Heavy Gales Short of Provisions 
Storm in the Channel Arrive at Deal, 

At length, on the 23rd of April, I bade adieu, with much 
pleasure, to Sao Jeronymo. I stopped at several places to 
buy beiju, fish, pacovas, and ^ny parrots I could meet with. 
My Indians went several times, early in the morning, to the 
gapo to catch frogs, which they obtained in great numbers, 
stringing them on a sipo, and, boiling them entire, entrails 
and all, devoured them with much gusto. The frogs are 
mottled of various colours, have dilated toes, and are called 

On the 26th we reached Sao Joaquim, where I stayed a 
day, to make some cages for my birds, and embark the things 
I had left with Senhor Lima. 

On the 28th I went on to Sao Gabriel, and paid my respects 
to the new Commandante, and then enjoyed a little conver- 
sation with my friend Mr. Spruce. Several of my birds died 
or were lost here, and at Sao Joaquim. A little black monkey 
killed and devoured two which had escaped from their cages, 
and one of my most valuable and beautiful parrots (a single 
specimen) was lost in passing the falls. I had left Sao 
Joaquim with fifty-two live animals (monkeys, parrots, etc.), 
which, in a small canoe, were no little trouble and annoyance. 

I was lucky enough to get the Commandante to send a 
soldier with me in charge of the Correio, or post, and thus 


ensured my passage to Barra without further delays, a point 
on which I had been rather uneasy. Leaving Sao Gabriel 
I stayed for the night at the house of Senhor Victorino, of 
whom I bought several green parrots, and a beautiful " anaca," 
or purple and red-necked crested parrot, in place of the one 
which had gone overboard while passing the falls at Sao 
Gabriel. The following day I reached the house of Senhor 
Palheta, and thought myself fortunate to purchase of him 
another anaca for seven shillings ; but the very next morning 
it died from cold, having flown into the river, and become 
completely chilled before it could be rescued. 

On the 2nd of May I arrived at the sitio of my old friend 
Senhor Chagas, who made me breakfast with him, and sold 
me some farinha, coffee, and a lot of guinea-fowls' eggs ; and 
embraced me with great affection at parting, wishing me every 
happiness. The same night I reached Castanheiro, where 
I particularly wished to get a pilot, to take me down the east 
bank of the river, for the purpose of making a sketch-survey 
of that side, and ascertaining the width of this extraordinary 
stream. Senhor Ricardo, who is the Capitao dos Trabalha- 
dores, immediately gave me an order to embark a man, whose 
house I should pass the next day, and who, he said, was per 
fectly acquainted with that side of the river. After breakfast- 
ing with him the next morning, I left, well satisfied to have a 
prospect of accomplishing this long-cherished scheme. On 
arriving at the house, however, it was empty, and there was no 
sign of it having been inhabited for some weeks, so that I had 
to give up all hopes of completing my project. 

I applied again to the Subdelegarde, Joao Cordeiro, whose 
house I reached the next day, and also to the lieutenant of 
Senhor Ricardo, but without effect ; all making the usual reply, 
" Nao ha gente nenhum aqui " (there is not a single person 
about there) ; so I was reluctantly compelled to proceed down 
the river by the same course which I had already traversed three 
times, as, by attempting to go on the other route without a 
pilot, I might lose my way, and not get to Barra for a month. 

The fever and ague now attacked me again, and I passed 
several days very uncomfortably. We had almost constant 
rains ; and to attend to my numerous birds and animals was a 
great annoyance, owing to the crowded state of the canoe, and 
the impossibility of properly cleaning them during the rain. 



Some died almost every day, and I often wished I had had 
nothing whatever to do with them, though, having once taken 
them in hand, I determined to persevere. 

On the 8th I reached Barcellos, and here I was annoyed by 
having to give an account of what I had in my canoes, and 
pay duty, the new Government of Barra not allowing anything 
to escape without contributing its share. 

On the nth we passed the mouth of the Rio Branco, and I 
noticed for the first time the peculiar colour of the water, 
which is a very pale yellow-olive, almost milky, very different 
from, and much whiter than, the waters of the Amazon, and 
making its name of the " White River " very appropriate. In 
the dry season the waters are much clearer. 

In the morning I reached Pedreiro, and purchased a turtle, 
which we stopped to cook, a short distance below the village ; 
it was a very large and fat one, and we fried the greater part 
of the meat in fat for the rest of the voyage. At a sitio, in the 
evening, I bought two parrots, and the next morning, at Ayrao, 
five more ; and in the afternoon, at another sitio, a blue 
macaw, a monkey, a toucan, and a pigeon. At night we had 
a storm of rain and wind, and for a long time beat about in 
the middle of the river, tossed by the waves, without being 
able to find the shore. 

On the 15th we reached " Ai purusa," where I bought some 
fish and maize. Here was lying a fine harpy eagle, which 
Senhor Bagatta had shot the day before, and, having plucked 
out some of the wing-feathers, had left it to rot ; I thus just 
missed, by a day, getting a specimen of this bird, which I so 
much desired, and which I had never been able to procure 
during a four years' residence in the country. We had plenty 
more rain every night, making the journey very disagreeable ; 
and at length, on the 17th, reached Barra do Rio Negro, now 
the capital of the new Province of Amazonas. 

I was here- kindly received by my friend Henrique Antony ; 
and I spent all the day in searching for some house or lodging, 
which was very hard to be procured, every house being occupied, 
and rents having much risen, from the influx of strangers and 
traders consequent on the arrival of the new Government. 
However, by the evening I succeeded in getting a small mud- 
floored, leaky-roofed room, which I was glad to hire, as I did 
not know how long I might be obliged to remain in Barra, 

1852.] RETURN TO BARRA. 259 

before I could obtain a passage to Para. The next morning I 
could not disembark my things till the new Custom-house 
opened, at nine o'clock ; when I had to pay duties on every 
article, even on my bird-skins, insects, stuffed alligators, etc., 
and so it was night before I got everything on shore. The 
next day I paid off my Indians, and settled myself to wait 
patiently and attend to my menagerie, till I could get a passage 
to Para. 

For three weeks I had been nearly lame, with a sore and 
inflamed toe, into which the chegoes had burrowed under the 
nail, and rendered wearing a shoe, or walking, exceedingly pain- 
ful ; having been compelled to move about the last few days, 
it had inflamed and swelled, and I was now therefore glad to 
remain quietly at home, and by poultices and plaisters endeavour 
to cure it. During the short time the Indians had remained 
in charge of my canoe, while I was looking after a house, they 
had lost three of my birds ; but I soon found I had quite 
enough left to keep me constantly employed attending to them. 
My parrots, in particular, of which I had more than twenty, 
would persist in wandering about into the street, and I lost 
several of my best, which were, no doubt, safely domiciled in 
some of the adjoining houses. I was much annoyed, too, by 
persons constantly coming to me, to sell them parrots or 
monkeys ; and my repeated assurances, that I myself wanted 
to buy more, did not in the least check the pertinacity of my 
would-be customers. 

The city was now full of fashionably-dressed young men, 
who received the public money for services they did not know 
how to perform. Many of them could not fill up a few dozen 
words in a printed form without making blunders, or in a 
shorter time than two or three hours ; their contemplations seem- 
ing scarcely to rise beyond their polished-leather boots and 
gold watch-chains. As it was necessary to get a passport, I 
presented myself at the office of the " Chef de Policia," for the 
purpose ; but was told that I must first advertise my intention 
of leaving in the newspaper. I accordingly did so, and about 
a week after went again. I was now requested to bring a 
formal application in writing, to have a passport granted me : 
I returned, and prepared one, and the next day went with it ; 
now the Chef was engaged, and he must sign the requisition 
before anything else could be done. I called again the next 


day, and now that the requisition was signed, I had a blank 
form given me to go and get stamped in another office, in a 
distant part of the city. Off I had to go, get the stamp, 
which took two clerks to sign, and paid my eight vintcms for 
it ; armed with this, I returned to the police-office, and now, 
to my surprise, the passport was actually made out and given 
me ; and on paying another twelve vintems (sixpence), I was 
at liberty to leave Barra whenever I could ; for as to leaving it 
whenever I pleased, that was out of the question. 

The city of Barra, the capital of the Province and the 
residence of the President, was now in a very miserable con- 
dition. No vessel had arrived from Para for five months, and 
all supplies were exhausted. Flour had been long since finished, 
consequently there was no bread ; neither was there biscuit, 
butter, sugar, cheese, wine, nor vinegar; molasses even, to 
sweeten our coffee, was very scarce ; and the spirit of the 
country (caxa^a) was so nearly exhausted, that it could only be 
obtained retail, and in the smallest quantities : everybody was 
reduced to farinha and fish, with beef twice a week, and turtle 
about as often. This state of destitution was owing to there 
having been a vessel lost a month before, near Barra, which 
was coming from Para ; and at this time of the year, when the 
river is full, and the winds adverse, the passage frequently 
takes from seventy days to three months, having to be per- 
formed almost entirely by warping with a rope sent ahead in 
a canoe, against the powerful current of the Amazon. It may 
therefore be well imagined that Barra was not the most agree- 
able place in the world to reside in, when, joined to the total 
absence of amusement and society which universally prevails 
there, the want of the common necessaries of life had also to 
be endured. 

Several vessels were leaving for Para, but all were so com- 
pletely filled as not to have room for me or my baggage ; and 
I had to wait in patience for the arrival of a small canoe from 
the Solimoes, in which Senhor Henrique guaranteed me a 
passage to Para. 

Before proceeding with my journey, I will note the few 
observations that occur to me on the character and customs 
of the inhabitants of this fine country. I of course speak solely 
of the province of Para, and it is probable that to the rest of 
Brazil my remarks may not in the least apply : so different in 


every respect is this part of the Empire from the more southern 
and better-known portion. There is, perhaps, no country in 
the world so capable of yielding a large return for agricultural 
labour, and yet so little cultivated ; none where the earth will 
produce such a variety of valuable productions, and where they 
are so totally neglected ; none where the facilities for internal 
communication are so great, or where it is more difficult or 
tedious to get from place to place ; none which so much 
possesses all the natural requisites for an immense trade with 
all the world, and where commerce is so limited and insignifi- 

This may well excite some wonder, when we remember that 
the white inhabitants of this country are the Portuguese and 
their descendants, the nation which a few centuries ago took 
the lead in all great discoveries and commercial enterprises, 
which spread its colonies over the whole world, and exhibited 
the most chivalric spirit of enterprise in overcoming the dangers 
of navigation in unknown seas, and of opening a commercial 
intercourse with barbarous or uncivilised nations. 

But yet, as far as I myself have been able to observe, their 
national character has not changed. The Portuguese, and 
their descendants, exhibit here the same perseverance, the 
same endurance of every hardship, and the same wandering 
spirit, which led and still leads them to penetrate into the most 
desolate and uncivilised regions in pursuit of commerce and in 
search of gold. But they exhibit also a distaste for agricultural 
and mechanical labour, which appears to have been ever a part 
of their national character, and which has caused them to sink 
to their present low condition in the scale of nations, in what- 
ever part of the world they may be found. When their colonies 
were flourishing in every quarter of the globe, and their ships 
brought luxuries for the supply of half the civilised world, a 
great part of their population found occupation in trade, in the 
distribution of that wealth which set in a constant stream from 
America, Asia, and Africa, to their shores ; but now that this 
stream has been diverted into other channels by the energy 
of the Saxon races, the surplus population, averse from agricul- 
ture, and unable to find a support in the diminished trade of 
the country, swarm to Brazil, in the hope that wealth may be 
found there, in a manner more congenial to their tastes. 

Thus we find the province of Para overrun with traders, the 


greater part of whom deserve no better name than pedlars, only 
they carry their goods in a canoe instead of upon their backs. 
As their distaste for agriculture, or perhaps rather their 
passionate love of trade, allows scarcely any of them to settle, 
or produce anything for others to trade in, their only resource 
is in the indigenous inhabitants of the country ; and as these 
are also very little given to cultivation except to procure the 
mere necessaries of life, it results that the only articles of 
commerce are the natural productions of the country, to catch 
or collect which requires an irregular and wandering life, 
better suited to an Indian's habits than the settled and continued 
exertions of agriculture. These products are principally dried 
fish, and oil from the turtles' eggs and cOw-fish, for the inland 
trade ; and sarsaparilla, piassaba, india-rubber, Brazil-nuts, 
balsam of capivi, and cacao, for the exports. Though the 
coffee-plant and sugar-cane grow everywhere almost sponta- 
neously, yet coffee and sugar have to be imported from other 
parts of Brazil for home consumption. Beef is everywhere 
bad, principally because there are no good pastures near the 
towns where cattle brought from a distance can be fattened, 
and no one thinks of making them, though it might easily be 
done. Vegetables are also very scarce and dear, and so are 
all fruits, except such as the orange and banana, which once 
planted only require the produce to be gathered when ripe ; 
fowls in Para are 35. 6d. each, and sugar as dear as in England. 
And all this because nobody will make it his business to supply 
any one of these articles ! There is a kind of gambling ex- 
citement in trade which outshines all the steady profits of 
labour, and regular mechanics are constantly leaving their 
business to get a few goods on credit and wander about the 
country trading. 

There is, I should think, no country where such a universal 
and insecure system of credit prevails as here. There is 
hardly a trader, great or small, in the country, that can be said 
to have any capital of his own. The merchants in Para, who 
have foreign correspondents, have goods out on credit ; they 
sell on credit to the smaller merchants or shopkeepers of Para ; 
these again supply on credit the negociantes in the country towns. 
From these last the traders up the different rivers get their 
supplies also on credit. These traders give small parcels of 
goods to half-civilised Indians, or to any one who will take 


them, to go among the wild Indian tribes and buy up their 
produce. They, however, have to give credit to the Indians, who 
will not work till they have been paid six months beforehand ; 
and so they are paid for sarsaparilla or oil, which is still in the 
forest or the lake. And at every step of this credit there is 
not the slightest security ; and robbery, waste, and a profuse 
squandering away of the property of others, is of constant 
occurrence. To cover all these chances of loss, the profits are 
proportionably great at every step, and the consumer often 
has to pay two shillings a yard for calico worth twopence, and 
everything else in like proportion. It is these apparently 
enormous profits that lead mechanics and others into trade, as 
they, do not consider the very small business that can be done 
in a given time, owing to the poverty of the country and the 
enormous number of traders in proportion to the purchasers. 
It seems a very nice and easy way of getting a living, to sell 
goods at double the price you pay for them, and then again to 
sell the produce you receive at double what you pay for it ; 
but as the greater part of the small traders do not get rid of 
more than a hundred pounds' worth of goods in a year, and 
the expenses of Indians and canoes, their families and bad 
debts, wines and liquors, and the waste which always takes 
place where everything is obtained upon credit, are often 
double that sum, it is not to be wondered at that they are 
almost all of them constantly in debt to their correspondents, 
who, when they have once thus got a hold on them, do not 
allow them easily to get free. 

It is this universal love of trade which leads, I think, to 
three great vices very prevalent here drinking, gambling, and 
lying, besides a whole host of trickeries, cheatings, and 
debaucheries of every description. The life of a river trader 
admits of little enjoyment to a man who has no intellectual 
resources ; it is not therefore to be wondered at that the 
greater part of these men are more or less addicted to intoxi- 
cation ; and when they can supply themselves on credit with 
as much wine and spirits as they like, there is little inducement 
to break through the habit. A man who, if he had to pay 
ready money, would never think of drinking wine, when he 
can have it on credit takes twenty or thirty gallons with him in 
his canoe, which, as it has cost him nothing, is little valued, 
and he perhaps arrives at the end of his voyage without a drop. 

264 Travels on the Amazon. \jwu % 

In the towns in the interior every shop sells spirits, and 
numbers of persons are all day drinking, taking a glass at 
every place they go to, and, by this constant dramming, 
ruining their health perhaps more than by complete intoxication 
at more distant intervals. Gambling is almost universal in a 
greater or less degree, and is to be traced to that same desire 
to gain money by some easier road than labour, which leads so 
many into commerce ; and the great number of traders, who 
have to get a living out of an amount of business which would 
not be properly sufficient for one-third the number, leads to 
the general use of trickery and lying of every degree, as fair 
means to be employed to entrap a new customer or to ruin a 
rival trader. Truth, in fact, in matters of business is so seldom 
made use of, that a lie seems to be preferred even when it can 
serve no purpose whatever, and where the person addressed 
must be perfectly aware of the falsehood of every asseveration 
made ; but Portuguese politeness does not permit him by word 
or look to throw any doubt on his friend's veracity. I have 
been often amused to hear two parties endeavouring to cheat 
each other, by assertions which each party knew to be perfectly 
false, and yet pretended to receive as undoubted fact. 

On the subjects of the most prevalent kind of immorality, it 
is impossible to enter, without mentioning facts too disgusting 
to be committed to paper. Vices of such a description as at 
home are never even alluded to, are here the subjects of 
common conversation, and boasted of as meritorious acts, and 
no opportunity is lost of putting the vilest construction upon 
every word or act of a neighbour. 

Among the causes which tend to promote the growth of 
such wide-spread immorality, we may perhaps reckon the 
geographical position and political condition of the country, 
and the peculiar state of civilisation in which it now exists. 
To a native, a tropical climate certainly offers fewer pleasures, 
pursuits, and occupations than a temperate one. The heat in 
the dry, and the moisture in the rainy season do not admit of 
the outdoor exercise and amusements, in which the inhabitants 
of a temperate zone can almost constantly indulge. The 
short twilights afford but a few moments between the glare of 
the descending sun and the darkness of night. Nature itself, 
dressed in an eternal and almost unchangeable garb of verdure, 
presents but a monotonous scene to him who has beheld it 

1852.] VILLA NOVA. 2O5 

from childhood. In the interior of the country there is not a 
road or path out of the towns, along which a person can walk 
with comfort or pleasure ; all is dense forest, or more impass- 
able clearings. Here are no flower-bespangled meadows, no 
turfy glades, or smooth shady walks to tempt the lover of 
nature ; here are no dry gravelled roads, where, even in the 
intervals of rain, we may find healthy and agreeable exercise ; 
here are no field-side paths among golden corn or luxuriant 
clover. Here are no long summer evenings, to wander in at 
leisure, and admire the slowly changing glories of the sunset ; 
nor long winter nights, with the blazing hearth, which, by 
drawing all the members of a family into close contact, pro- 
mote a social intercourse and domestic enjoyment, which the 
inhabitants of a tropical clime can but faintly realise. 

At length the canoe arrived in which I was to go to Para, 
and I soon agreed for my passage, and set to work getting 
my things together. I had a great number of cases and boxes, 
six large ones which I had left with Senhor Henrique the year 
before, being still in his possession, because the great men of 
Barra were afraid they might contain contraband articles, and 
would not let them pass. 

I* now got them embarked, by making a declaration of their 
contents, and paying a small duty on them. Out of a hundred 
live animals which I had purchased or had had given to me, 
there now only remained thirty-four, consisting of five monkeys, 
two macaws, twenty parrots and paroquets of twelve different 
species, five small birds, a white-crested Brazilian pheasant, 
and a toucan. 

On the 10th of June we left Barra, commencing our voyage 
very unfortunately for me ; for, on going on board, after bidding 
adieu to my friends, I missed my toucan, which had, no doubt, 
flown overboard, and not being noticed by any one, was 
drowned. This bird I esteemed very highly, as he was full- 
grown and very tame, and I had great hopes of bringing him 
alive to England. 

On the 13th we reached Villa Nova, at which place, being 
the last in the new Province, we had to disembark to show our 
passports, as if entering into another kingdom j and not content 
with this, there is another station half a day further down, on 
the exact boundary-line, where all vessels have to stay a second, 
time, and again present their papers, as if the great object of 


the Government were to make their regulations as annoying 
and expensive as possible. At Villa Nova I was glad to get 
some butter and biscuits ; quite a treat, after the scanty luxuries 
of Barra. Here, too, I met the kind priest, Padre Torquato, 
who had entertained us so hospitably on our ascent of the 
river. He received me with great kindness, and regretted I 
could not stay longer with him ; he gave me a curious animal, 
which I had heard of but never seen before, a forest-dog, an 
animal somewhat resembling a fox, in its bushy tail and great 
taste for poultry, and apparently very tame and docile. 

The next day we passed Obydos, the strong current of the 
river, now at its height, carrying us down with great rapidity ; 
and the succeeding night we had a tremendous storm, which 
blew and tossed our little vessel about in a very alarming 
manner. The owner of the canoe, an Indian, was much 
frightened ; he called upon the Virgin, and promised her several 
pounds of candles, if she would but save the canoe ; and, open- 
ing the door of the little cabin where I was sleeping, cried out 
in a most piteous voice, " Oh ! meu amigo, estamos perdidos" 
(Oh ! my friend, we are all lost). In vain I tried to comfort 
him with assurances that, as the vessel was new and strong, 
and not too heavily laden, there was no danger, although the 
night was pitch dark, and the w r ind blew in the most fierce and 
furious gusts imaginable. We did not know whether we were 
in the middle of the river or near the side, and the only danger 
we w r ere exposed to, was of our drifting ashore or running 
aground. After about an hour, however, the canoe came to a 
stop, without any shock whatever, and remained perfectly still, 
although the wind still blew. It was so dark that nothing was 
to be seen, and it was only by stretching his arm down over 
the side, that the master ascertained that we had drifted into 
one of the large compact beds of floating grass which, in many 
places, line the banks of the Amazon for hundreds of yards 
from the shore. Here, therefore, we were safely moored, and 
waited for the morning, sleeping comfortably, with the know- 
ledge that we w r ere out of all danger. 

The next day, by noon, we reached the mouth of the Tapa- 
joz, and went in the montaria to Santarem, to make some 
purchases and visit my friends. I found old Captain Hislop ; 
but Mr. Bates, whom I most washed to see, had left a week 
before on an excursion up the Tapaj oz. Having laid in a stock 

1852.] SARSAPARILLA. 267 

of sugar, vinegar, oil, biscuits, and fresh bread and meat, we 
proceeded on our journey, which we were anxious to complete 
as soon as possible. 

On the iSth we passed Gurupa; and on the 19th entered 
the narrow channels which form the communication with the 
Para river, bidding adieu to the turbid mighty flood of the 
never-to-be-forgotten Amazon. 

We here met a vessel from Para, fifty days out, having made 
a much shorter distance than we, descending the river, had 
come in five. 

On the 22nd we reached Breves, a neat little village with 
well-supplied shops, where I bought half a dozen of the pretty 
painted basins, for the manufacture of which the place is cele- 
brated ; we here also got some oranges, at six for a halfpenny. 

The next day we stayed at a sitio built upon piles, for the 
whole country about here is covered at spring-tides. The 
master of the canoe had a lot of sarsaparilla to put up properly 
for the Para market, and stayed a day to do it. The sarsa- 
parilla is the root of a prickly, climbing plant, allied to our 
common black bryony ; the roots are dug by the Indians, and 
tied up in bundles of various lengths and sizes ; but, as it is a 
very light cargo, it is necessary to form it into packages of a 
convenient and uniform size and length, for closer stowage ; 
these are cylindrical, generally of sixteen pounds each, and are 
about three and a half feet long and five or six inches in 
diameter, cut square and even at the ends, and wound round 
closely from end to end with the long flexible roots of a species 
of Pol/ios, which, growing on the tops of lofty trees, hang down 
often a hundred feet or more, and, when the outer bark is 
scraped off, are universally used for this purpose. It was to 
do this binding we stayed here, the sarsa having been already 
done up in proper packages ; and while the crew were busy 
about it, I occupied myself making some sketches of palms, 
which were yet wanting to complete my collection. 

In two days more we reached the mouth of the Tocantms, 
where there is a great bay, so wide, that the further shore is 
not visible. As there are some dangerous sandbanks here, 
there is a pilot who takes canoes over, and we waited all day 
in order to start with the morning's tide, which is considered 
the most favourable for the passage. While here I got a few 
shells, and amused myself by talking with the pilot, his wife, 


and two very lively daughters. Our conversation turned upon 
the shortness and uncertainty of life ; which the old woman 
illustrated by a tale, which seemed to be another version of 
the "three warnings." 

11 A man and his wife were conversing together, and remark- 
ing on the unpleasantness of being subject to death. I should 
like to make friends with Death, some way,' said the man ; 
1 then perhaps he will not trouble me.' ' That you can easily 
do,' said his wife ; ' invite him to be padrinho (godfather) to 
our little boy, who is to be baptized next week ; you will then 
be able to talk to him on the subject, and he will surely not 
be able to refuse a slight favour to his " compadre." So he was 
invited accordingly, and came ; and after the ceremony and 
the feast were over, as he was going away, the man said to 
him, ' Compadre Death, as there are plenty of people in the 
world for you to take, I hope you will never come for me.' 
' Really, Compadre,' replied Death, ' I cannot promise you 
that, for when God sends me for anybody I must go. How- 
ever, I will do all I can, and I will at all events promise you a 
week's notice, that you may have time to prepare yourself.' 
Several years passed on, and Death at last came to pay them a 
visit. ' Good-evening, Compadre,' says he, ' I'm come on a 
disagreeable business : I have received orders to fetch you 
this day week, so I'm come to give you the notice I promised 
you.' ' Oh ! Compadre,' said the man, ' you're come very 
soon ; it's exceedingly inconvenient for me to go just now, I'm 
getting on very nicely, and shall be a rich man in a few years, 
if you will but let me alone : it's very unkind of you, Com- 
padre ; I'm sure you can arrange it if you like, and take some 
one else instead of me.' ' Very sorry,' said Death, ' but it 
can't be done, nohow : I've got my orders, and I must obey 
them. Nobody ever gets off when the order's once given, and 
very few get so long a notice as I've been able to give you. 
However, I'll try all I can, and if I succeed, you won't see me 
this day week; but I don't think there's any hope, so good- 

" When the day came, the man was in a great fright, for he 
did not expect to escape ; his wife, however, hit upon a plan, 
which they resolved to try. They had an old Negro man in 
the house, who used to be generally employed in the kitchen. 
They made him exchange clothes with his master, and sent 

I8S2.] ST. JOHN'S DAY. 269 

him away out of the house : the master then blacked his face, 
and made himself as much like the old nigger as he could. 
On the evening appointed Death came. ' Good-evening, 
Comadre,' said he ; ' where is my compadre ? I'm obliged to 
take him with me. ' Oh ! Compadre,' said she, ' he didn't at 
all expect you, and is gone on some business into the village, 
and won't be back till late.' ' Now I'm in a pretty mess,' said 
Death ; ' I did not expect my compadre would have treated 
me so; it's very ungentlemanly of him to get me into this 
scrape after all I've done for him. However, I must take 
somebody ; who is there in the house ? ' The woman was 
rather alarmed at this question, for she expected he would 
immediately have started off to the village in search of her 
husband : however, she considered it best to be civil, so 
replied, 'There's only our old nigger, that's in the kitchen, 
getting supper ready. Sit down, Compadre, and take a bit, 
and then perhaps my husband will be in ; I'm very sorry he 
should give you so much trouble.' ' No, I can't stay,' said 
Death ; ' I've got a long way to go, and must take somebody, 
so let's see if the old nigger will do ? ' and he walked into the 
kitchen, where the man was pretending to be busily engaged 
over the fire. ' Well, if Compadre won't come, I suppose I 
must take the old nigger,' said Death ; and before the wife 
could speak a word, he stretched out his hand, and down fell 
her husband a corpse. 

"So you see," said the old woman to me, "when a man's 
time is come he must go : neither doctors nor anything else 
can stop him, and you can't cheat Death nohow." To which 
sentiment I did not think it worth while to make any objection. 

About two days before had been St. John's day, when it is 
the custom to make bonfires and jump over and through them, 
which act is considered by the common people as an important 
religious ceremony. As we were talking about it, the old lady 
gravely asked if we knew that animals also passed through the 
fire ? We replied that we were not aware of the fact ; upon 
which she informed us that we might hereafter believe it, for 
that she had had ocular demonstration of it. " It was last 
year," said she, " on the day after St. John's, my son went out 
to hunt, and brought home a cotia and a paca, and both of 
them were completely scorched all along the belly : they had 
evidently passed through the fire the night before." "But 


where do they get the fire from ? " I asked. " Oh ! God 
prepares it for them," said she ; and on my hinting that fires 
were not often found in the forest unless lit by human hands, 
she at once silenced my objections by triumphantly asking 
me, "if anything was impossible with God?" at the same time 
observing that perhaps I was a Protestant, and did not believe 
in God or the Virgin. So I was obliged to give up the point ; 
and though I assured her that Protestants did generally 
believe in God and went to church, she replied that she did 
not know, but had always heard to the contrary. 

At length, on the 2nd of July, we reached Para, where I 
was kindly received by my friend Mr. C., and was glad to 
learn that there was a vessel in port that would probably sail 
for London in about a week. Several times on the voyage 
down I had had fits of ague, and was still very weak and quite 
unable to make any exertion. The yellow fever, which the 
year before had cut off thousands of the inhabitants, still 
attacked new-comers, and scarcely a ship was in port but had 
a considerable portion of her crew in the hospital. The 
weather was beautiful ; the summer or dry season was just 
commencing, vegetation was luxuriantly verdant, and the 
bright sky and clear fresh atmosphere seemed as if they could 
not harbour the fatal miasma which had crowded the cemetery 
with funeral crosses, and made every dwelling in the city a 
house of mourning. Once or twice I attempted to walk out 
into the forest, but the exertion generally brought on shiverings 
and sickness, so I thought it best to remain as quiet as 
possible till the time of my departure. 

Since I had left the city it had been much improved. 
Avenues of almond and other trees had been formed along 
the road to Nazar6 and round the Largo de Palacio ; new 
roads and drives had been made, and some new buildings 
erected : in other respects the city was the same. The dirty, 
straggling, uncovered market, the carts of hacked beef, the 
loud chanting of the Negro porters, and the good-humoured 
smiling faces of the Indian and Negro girls selling their fruits 
and " doces," greeted me as of old. Fowls had risen in price 
from about 2s. to $s. 6d., and fruits and vegetables in about the 
same proportion; while in changing English money for 
Brazilian I now got about ten per cent, less than I used, and 
yet everybody complained of trade being very bad, and prices 

1852.] SAIL FOR ENGLAND. 271 

quite unremunerative. I heard many stories of miraculous 
cures of the yellow fever, when at its worst stage, and after the 
parties had been given up by the doctors. One had been 
cured by eating ices, another by drinking a bottle of wine ; 
ices, in fact, had got into great favour as a fine tonic, and were 
taken daily by many persons as a most useful medicine. 

I agreed for my passage in the brig Helen, two hundred and 
thirty-five tons, Captain John Turner, whose property she was ; 
and on the morning of Monday, the 12th of July, we got aboard, 
and bade adieu to the white houses and waving palm-trees of 
Para. Our cargo consisted of about a hundred and twenty 
tons of india-rubber, and a quantity of cocoa, arnotto, piassaba, 
and balsam of capivi. About two days after we left I had 
a slight attack of fever, and almost thought that I was still 
doomed to be cut off by the dread disease which had sent my 
brother and so many of my countrymen to graves upon a 
foreign shore. A little calomel and opening medicines, how- 
ever, soon set me right again; but as I was very weak, and 
suffered much from sea-sickness, I spent most of my time in 
the cabin. For three weeks we had very light winds and fine 
weather, and on the 6th of August had reached about latitude 
30 30' north, longitude 52 west. 

On that morning, after breakfast, I was reading in the cabin, 
when the Captain came down and said to me, " I'm afraid the 
ship's on fire; come and see what you think of it," and 
proceeded to examine the lazaretto, or small hole under the 
floor where the provisions are kept, but no signs of fire were 
visible there. We then went on deck to the forepart of the 
ship, where we found a dense vapoury smoke issuing from 
the forecastle. The fore hatchway was immediately opened, 
and, the smoke issuing there also, the men were set to work 
clearing out part of the cargo. After throwing out some 
quantity without any symptom of approaching the seat of the 
fire, we opened the after hatchway ; and here the smoke was 
much more dense, and in a very short time became so suffo- 
cating, that the men could not stay in the hold to throw out 
more cargo, so they were set to work pouring in water, while 
others proceeded to the cabin, and now found abundance of 
smoke issuing from the lazaretto, whence it entered through 
the joints of the bulkhead which separated it from the hold. 
Attempts were now made to break this bulkhead down ; but 


the planks were so thick and the smoke so unbearable that 
it could not be effected, as no man could remain in the 
lazaretto to make more than a couple of blows. The cabin 
table was therefore removed, and a hole attempted to be cut 
in the cabin floor, so as to be able to pour water immediately 
on the seat of the fire, which appeared to be where the balsam 
was stowed. This took some time, owing to the suffocating 
smoke, which also continued to pour in dense volumes out 
of the hatchway. Seeing that there was now little chance of 
our being able to extinguish the fire, the Captain thought it 
prudent to secure our own safety, and called all hands to get 
out the boats, and such necessaries as we should want, in case 
of being obliged to take to them. The long-boat was stowed 
on deck, and of course required some time to get it afloat. 
The gig w r as hung on davits on the quarter, and was easily 
let down. All now were in great activity. Many little 
necessaries had to be hunted up from their hiding-places. 
The cook was sent for corks to plug the holes in the bottoms 
of the boats. Now no one knew where a rudder had been 
put away; now the thowl-pins were missing. The oars had 
to be searched for, and spars to serve as masts, with propor- 
tionate sails, spare canvas, twine, cordage, tow-ropes, sail- 
needles, nails and tacks, carpenters' tools, etc. The Captain 
was looking after his chronometer, sextant, barometer, charts, 
compasses, and books of navigation ; the seamen were getting 
their clothes into huge canvas bags ; all were lugging about 
pilot-coats, blankets, south-westers, and oilskin coats and 
trousers ; and I went down into the cabin, now suffocatingly 
hot and full of smoke, to see what was worth saving. I got 
my w r atch and a small tin box containing some shirts and a 
couple of old note-books, with some drawings of plants and 
animals, and scrambled up w r ith them on deck. Many clothes 
and a large portfolio of drawings and sketches remained in my 
berth ; but I did not care to venture down again, and in fact 
felt a kind of apathy about saving anything, that I can now 
hardly account for. On deck the crew were still busy at the 
boats ; two barrels of bread were got in, a lot of raw pork, 
some ham and cases of preserved meats, some wine and a 
large cask of water. The cask had to be lowered into the 
boat empty, for fear of any accident, and after being securely 
fixed in its place, filled with buckets from those on board. 

1852.] SHIP TAKES FIRE. 273 

The boats, having been so long drying in a tropical sun, 
were very leaky, and were now half full of water, and books, 
coats, blankets, shoes, pork, and cheese, in a confused mass, 
were soaking in them. It was necessary to put two men in 
each, to bale ; and everything necessary being now ready, the 
rest of the crew were called off again to pour water into the 
hatchways and cabin, from which rose volumes of thick yellow 
smoke. Now, too, we could hear in the hold the balsam 
bubbling, like some great boiling caldron, which told of such 
intense heat, that we knew the flames must soon break out. 
And so it was, for in less than half an hour the fire burst 
through the cabin-floor into the berths, and consuming rapidly 
the dry pine-wood, soon flamed up through the skylight. 
There was now a scorching heat on the quarter-deck, and we 
saw that all hope' was over, and that we must in a few minutes 
be driven by the terrible element to take refuge on the scarcely 
less dangerous one, which heaved and swelled its mighty 
billows a thousand miles on every side of us. The Captain 
at length ordered all into the boats, and was himself the last 
to leave the vessel. I had to get down over the stern by a 
rope into the boat, rising and falling and swaying about with 
the swell of the ocean ; and, being rather weak, rubbed the 
skin considerably off my fingers, and tumbled in among 
the miscellaneous articles already soaking there in the greatest 
confusion. One sailor was baling with a bucket, and another 
with a mug ; but the water not seeming at all to diminish, but 
rather the contrary, I set to work helping them, and soon 
found the salt-water producing a most intense smarting and 
burning on my scarified fingers. 

We now lay astern of the ship, to which we were moored, 
watching the progress of the fire. The flames very soon 
caught the shrouds and sails, making a most magnificent 
conflagration up to the very peak, for the royals were set at 
the time. Soon after, the fore rigging and sails also burnt, 
and flames were seen issuing from the fore hatchway, showing 
how rapidly the fire was spreading through the combustible 
cargo. The vessel, having now no sails to steady her, rolled 
heavily, and the masts, no longer supported by the shrouds, 
bent and creaked, threatening to go overboard every minute. 
The main-mast went first, breaking off about twenty feet above 
the deck j but the foremast stood for a long time, exciting our 



admiration and wonder, at the time it resisted the heavy rolls 
and lurches of the vessel ; at last, being partly burned at the 
bottom, it went over, more than an hour after its companion. 
The decks were now a mass of fire, and the bulwarks partly 
burnt away. Many of the parrots, monkeys, and other 
animals we had on board, were already burnt or suffocated ; 
but several had retreated to the bowsprit out of reach of the 
flames, appearing to wonder what was going on, and quite 
unconscious of the fate that awaited them. We tried to get 
some of them into the boats, by going as near as we could 
venture ; but they did not seem at all aware of the danger they 
were in, and would not make any attempt to reach us. As the 
flames caught the base of the bowsprit, some of them ran back 
and jumped into the midst of the fire. Only one parrot 
escaped : he was sitting on a rope hanging from the bowsprit, 
and this burning above him let him fall into the water, where, 
after floating a little way, we picked him up. 

Night was now coming on. The whole deck was a mass of 
fire, giving out an intense heat. We determined to stay by the 
vessel all night, as the light would attract any ship passing 
within a considerable distance of us. We had eaten nothing 
since the morning, and had had plenty to do and to think of, 
to prevent our being hungry; but now, as the evening air 
began to get cool and pleasant, we all found we had very good 
appetites, and supped well on biscuits and water. 

We then had to make our arrangements for the night. Our 
mooring ropes had been burnt, and we were thus cast adrift 
from the ship, and were afraid of getting out of sight of it 
during the night, and so missing any vessel which might chance 
to be attracted by its light. A portion of the masts and 
rigging were floating near the ship, and to this we fastened our 
boats ; but so many half-burnt spars and planks were floating 
about us, as to render our situation very perilous, for there 
was a heavy swell, and our boats might have been in an 
instant stove in by coming in contact with them. 

We therefore cast loose again, and kept at a distance of a 
quarter or half a mile from the ship by rowing when requisite. 
We were incessantly baling the whole night. Ourselves and 
everything in the boats were thoroughly drenched, so we got 
little repose : if for an instant we dozed off into forgetfulness, 
we soon woke up again to the realities of our position, and tq 


see the red glare which our burning vessel cast over us. It 
was now a magnificent spectacle, for the decks had completely 
burnt away, and as it heaved and rolled with the swell of the 
sea, presented its interior towards us filled with liquid flame, 
a fiery furnance tossing restlessly upon the ocean. 

At length morning came; the dangers of the night were past, 
and with hopeful hearts we set up our little masts, and rigged 
our sails, and, bidding adieu to the still burning wreck of our 
ship, went gaily bounding along before a light east wind. And 
then pencils and books were hunted out, and our course and 
distance to Bermuda calculated ; and we found that this, the 
nearest point of land in the vast waste of waters round us, was 
at least seven hundred miles away. But still we went on full 
of hope, for the wind was fair, and we reckoned that, if it did 
not change, we might make a hundred miles a day, and so in 
seven days reach the longed-for haven. 

As we had supped but scantily the night before, we had now 
good appetites, and got out our ham and pork, biscuit and 
wine and water, and made a very hearty meal, finding that 
even uncooked meat was not to be despised where no fire 
could be got to cook it with. 

The day was fine and warm, and the floating seaweed, called 
gulf-weed, was pretty abundant. The boats still required 
almost incessant baling, and though we did not ship many seas, 
yet there was quite enough spray to keep us constantly wet. 
At night we got a rope fastened to the long-boat, for her to 
tow us, in order that we might not get separated ; but as we 
sailed pretty equally, we kept both sails up. We passed a 
tolerable night under the circumstances. The next day, the 
8th, was fine, gulf-weed still floated plentifully by us, and there 
were numerous flying-fish, some of which fell into our boats, 
and others flew an immense distance over the waves. I now 
found my hands and face very much blistered by the sun, and 
exceedingly sore and painful. At night two boobies, large 
dusky sea-birds with very long wings, flew about us. During 
the night I saw several meteors, and in fact could not be in a 
better position for observing them, than lying on my back in a 
small boat in the middle of the Atlantic. We also saw a flock 
of small birds fly by, making a chirping noise ; the sailors did 
not know what they were. 

The 9th was again fine and hot, and my blistered hands 


were very painful. No ship appeared in sight, though we 
were crossing the track of the West India vessels. It was 
rather squally, and I passed a nervous, uncomfortable night ; 
our boats did not, however, now leak so much, which was a 
great satisfaction. 

The ioth was squally, and the wind veered to the south- 
west, so that we could not make our course for Bermuda, but 
were obliged to go to the north of it. The sea ran very high, 
and sudden gusts of wind would frequently heel us over in a 
manner very alarming to me. We had some heavy showers of 
rain, and should have liked to have caught some fresh water, 
but could not, as all our clothes and the sails were saturated 
with salt. Our position at noon was in latitude 31 59' north, 
longitude 57 22' west. 

The nth was still rough and squally. There was less gulf- 
weed now. The wind got still more to the westward, so that 
we were obliged to go nearly north. Our boats had now got 
swollen with the water, and leaked very little. This night I 
saw some more falling stars. 

On the 1 2th the wind still kept foul, and we were getting 
quite out of the track of ships, and appeared to have but little 
chance of reaching Bermuda. The long-boat passed over 
some green water to-day, a sign of there being soundings, 
probably some rock at a moderate depth. Many dolphins 
swam about the boats ; their colours when seen in the water 
are superb, the most gorgeous metallic hues of green, blue, and 
gold : I was never tired of admiring them. 

On the 13th the wind was due west, blowing exactly from 
the point we wanted to go to. The day was very fine, and 
there were several stormy petrels, or Mother Cary's chickens, 
flying about us. We had now been a week in the boats, and 
were only halfway to the Islands, so we put all hands on short 
allowance of water before it was too late. The sun was very 
hot and oppressive, and we suffered much from thirst. 

The 14th was calm, and we could not get on at all. The 
sun was scorching and we had no shelter, and were parched 
with thirst the whole day. Numerous dolphins and pilot-fish 
were about the boats. At night there was a very slight favour- 
able breeze, and as we had by this time got our clothes pretty 
dry we slept well. 

On the 15th the wind again died away, and we had another 


calm. The sea was full of minute Medusa, called " blubber" 
by the sailors : some were mere whitish oval or spherical lumps, 
others were brown, and beautifully constructed like a little cap, 
swimming rapidly along by alternate contractions and expan- 
sions, and so expelling the water behind them. The day was 
very hot, and we suffered exceedingly from thirst. We were 
almost in despair about seeing a ship, or getting on to the 
Islands. At about 5 p.m., while taking our dinner, we saw the 
long-boat, which was at some distance from us, tack. "She 
must see a sail," said the captain, and looking round we saw 
a vessel coming nearly towards us, and only about five miles 
distant. We were saved ! 

The men joyfully drank the rest of their allowance of water, 
seized their oars, and pulled with hearty goodwill, and by 
seven o'clock we were alongside. The captain received us 
kindly on board. The men went first to the water-casks, and 
took long and hearty draughts, in which we joined them, and 
then enjoyed the almost forgotten luxury of tea. From having 
been so long cramped in the boats, I could hardly stand when 
I got on board. 

That night I could not sleep. Home and all its pleasures 
seemed now within my grasp; and crowding thoughts, and 
hopes and fears, made me pass a more restless night than I 
should have done, had we still been in the boats, with dimin- 
ished hopes of rescue. The ship was the Jordeson, Captain 
Venables, from Cuba, bound for London, with a cargo of 
mahogany, fustic, and other woods. We were picked up in 
latitude 32 48' north, longitude 6o 27' west, being still about 
two hundred miles from Bermuda. 

For several days afterwards we had fine weather and very 
light winds, and went creeping along about fifty miles a day. 
It was now, when the danger appeared past, that I began to 
feel fully the greatness of my loss. With what pleasure had I 
looked upon every rare and curious insect I had added to my 
collection ! How many times, when almost overcome by the 
ague, had I crawled into the forest and been rewarded by some 
unknown and beautiful species ! How many places, which no 
European foot but my own had trodden, would have been 
recalled to my memory by the rare birds and insects they had 
furnished to my collection ! How many weary days and weeks 
had I passed, upheld only by the fond hope of bringing home 


many new and beautiful forms from those wild regions ; every 
one of which would be endeared to me by the recollections 
they would call up, which should prove that I had not wasted 
the advantages I had enjoyed, and would give me occupation 
and amusement for many years to come ! And now every- 
thing was gone, and I had not one specimen to illustrate the 
unknown lands I had trod, or to call back the recollection of 
the wild scenes I had beheld ! But such regrets I knew were 
vain, and I tried to think as little as possible about what might 
have been, and to occupy myself with the state of things which 
actually existed. 

On the 22 nd of August we saw three water-spouts, the first 
time I had beheld that curious phenomenon. I had much 
wished once to witness a storm at sea, and I was soon grati- 

Early in September we had a very heavy gale. The baro- 
meter had fallen nearly half an inch during the night ; and in 
the morning it was blowing strong, and we had a good deal of 
canvas up when the captain began to shorten sail ; but before 
it could be taken in, four or five sails were blown to pieces, 
and it took several hours to get the others properly stowed. 
By the afternoon we were driving along under double-reefed 
topsails. The sea was all in a foam, and dashed continually 
over us. By night a very heavy sea was up, and we rolled 
about fearfully, the water pouring completely over the bul- 
warks, deluging the decks, and making the old ship stagger 
like a drunken man. We passed an uncomfortable night, for 
a great sea broke into the cabin skylight and wetted us all, and 
the ship creaked and shook, and plunged so madly, that I 
feared something would give way, and we should go to the 
bottom after all ; all night, too, the pumps were kept going, for 
she leaked tremendously, and it was noon the next day before 
she was got free of water. The wind had now abated, and we 
soon had fine weather again, and all hands were busy bending 
new sails and repairing the old ones. 

We caught at different times several dolphins, which were 
not bad eating. I did not see so much to admire in the 
colours of the dying dolphin ; they are not to be compared 
with the colours of the living fish seen in the blue transparent 

We were now getting rather short of provisions, owing to 

1852.] ARRIVAL AT DEAL. 279 

the increased number of mouths : our cheese and ham were 
finished, then our peas gave out, and we had no more pea- 
soup, next the butter came to an end, and we had to eat our 
biscuit dry, our bread and pork, too, got very short, and we 
had to be put upon allowance. We then got some supplies 
from another ship; but our voyage was so much prolonged, 
and we had adverse winds and another heavy gale, so that we 
were again in want, finished our last piece of meat, and had to 
make some scanty dinners off biscuit and water. Again we 
were relieved with a little supply of pork and some molasses, 
and so managed pretty well. 

We were in the Channel on the night of the 29th of Sep- 
tember, when a violent gale occurred, that did great damage to 
the shipping, and caused the destruction of many vessels much 
more seaworthy than our own. The next morning we had 
four feet of water in the hold. 

On the 1 st of October the pilot came on board, and Captain 
Turner and myself landed at Deal, after an eighty days' 
voyage from Para; thankful for having escaped so many 
dangers, and glad to tread once more on English ground, 




The basin of the Amazon surpasses in dimensions that of any 
other river in the world. It is entirely situated in the Tropics, 
on both sides of the Equator, and receives over its whole 
extent the most abundant rains. The body of fresh water 
emptied by it into the ocean, is therefore far greater than that 
of any other river ; not only absolutely, but probably also 
relatively to its area, for as it is almost entirely covered by dense 
virgin forests, the heavy rains which penetrate them do not 
suffer so much evaporation as when they fall on the scorched 
Llanos of the Orinooko or the treeless Pampas of La Plata. 
For richness of vegetable productions and universal fertility 
of soil it is unequalled on the globe, and offers to our notice 
a natural region capable of supporting a greater population, 
and supplying it more completely with the necessaries and 
luxuries of life, than any other of equal extent. Of this 
wonderful district we will now describe the principal physical 

From about 4 north latitude to 20 south, every stream that 
flows down the eastern slope of the Andes is a tributary of the 
Amazon. This is as if every river, from St. Petersburg to 
Madrid, united their waters into one mighty flood. 

The Maranon, which is generally considered the main 
stream of the Amazon, deserves that title on several accounts. 
It rises to the westward of all the other great tributaries, and it 
receives all the waters which flow nearest to the Pacific, and 
most remote in a direct line from the mouth of the river. It 
flows for a considerable distance in the most westerly valley of 
the Andes, separated by one range only from the Pacific, and 
at the point where it breaks through the eastern chain of the 


Andes, in 7 8 west longitude, is already a large river, on a 
meridian where all the other streams which can lay a claim to 
be considered the head-waters of the Amazon have as yet no 
existence. On going up the Amazon from its mouth, it is that 
branch on which you can keep longest in the general east and 
west direction of the river ; and if the actual length of its 
course is considered, it still keeps its place, for I find that there 
is not more than ten or twenty miles' difference between it and 
the Uaycali, reckoning to the most distant source of the latter ; 
and its course is at present so uncertain, that future surveys 
may increase or diminish it considerably. 

These considerations, I think, decide the question as to the 
propriety of considering the Maranon as the true source of the 
Amazon. We find that from its origin in the Lake Lauricocha, 
to its mouth in longitude 50 west, in length, following the main 
curves, but disregarding the minuter windings, is 2,740 English 

Its extent, in a straight line from east to west, is about 2,050 
miles ; and from north to south, its tributary streams cover a 
space of 1,720 miles. 

The whole area of its basin, not including that of the 
Tocantins, which I consider a distinct river, is 2,330,000 
English square miles, or 1,760,000 nautical square miles. 
This is more than a third of all South America, and equal to 
two-thirds of all Europe. All western Europe could be placed 
in it without touching its boundaries, and it would even con- 
tain our whole Indian empire. 

The numerous tributary streams of the Amazon, many of 
them equal to the largest rivers of Europe, differ remarkably 
in the colour of their waters, the character of the vegetation on 
their banks, and the animals that inhabit them. They may be 
divided into three groups, the white-water rivers, the blue- 
water rivers, and the black-water rivers. 

The main stream of the Amazon itself is a white-water river, 
this name being applied to those waters which are of a pale 
yellowish olive-colour. This colour does not seem to depend 
entirely on free earthy matter, but rather on some colouring 
material held in solution ; for in lakes and inlets, where the 
waters are undisturbed and can deposit all their sediment, they 
still retain the colour. 

The waters of the Amazon continue of the same colour up 


to the mouth of the Uaycali, when they become blue or trans- 
parent, and the white waters are extended up that branch. 

This has been taken as an evidence of the Uaycali being the 
main stream of the Amazon ; but I cannot consider that it has 
anything to do with the question. It is evident that \i equal 
quantities of clear and muddy water are mixed together, the 
result will differ very little from the latter in colour, and if the 
clear water is considerably more in quantity the resulting 
mixture will still be muddy. But the difference of colour 
between the white- and blue-water rivers, is evidently owing 
to the nature of the country they flow through : a rocky and 
sandy district will always have clear-water rivers ; an alluvial 
or clayey one, will have yellow or olive-coloured streams. A 
river may therefore rise in a rocky district, and after some time 
flow through an alluvial basin, where the water will of course 
change its colour, quite independently of any tributaries which 
may enter it near the junctions of the two formations. 

The lea and Japura have waters very similar in colour to 
the Amazon. The Rio Branco, a branch of the Rio Negro from 
the north, is remarkable for its peculiar colour : till I saw it, I 
had not believed it so well deserved its name. The Indians 
and traders had always told me that it was really white, much 
more so than the" Amazon ; and on descending the Rio Negro 
in 1852 I passed its mouth, and found that its waters were of a 
milky colour mixed with olive. It seemed as if it had a quan- 
tity of chalk in solution, and I have little doubt of there being 
on its banks considerable beds of the pure white clay which 
occurs in many parts of the Amazon, and which helps to give 
the waters their peculiar whiteness. The Madeira and Purus 
have also white waters in the wet season, when their powerful 
currents bring down the alluvial soil from their banks ; but in 
the dry season they are a dark transparent brownish-olive. 

All the rivers that rise in the mountains of Brazil have blue 
or clear water. The Tocantins, the Xingu, and the Tapajoz, 
are the chief of this class. The Tocantins runs over volcanic 
and crystalline rocks in the lower parts of its course, and its 
waters are beautifully transparent ; the tide, however, enters for 
some miles, and renders it turbid, as also the Xingu. The 
Tapajoz, which enters the Amazon about five hundred miles 
above Para, is clear to its mouth, and forms a striking contrast 
to the yellow flood of that river. 


It is above the Madeira that we first meet with the curious 
phenomenon of great rivers of black water. The Rio Negro 
is the largest and most celebrated of these. It rises in about 
2 30' N. lat., and its waters are there much blacker than in 
the lower part of its course. All its upper tributaries, the 
smaller ones especially, are very dark, and, where they run 
over white sand, give it the appearance of gold, from the rich 
colour of the water, which, when deep, appears inky black. 
The small streams which rise in the same district, and flow 
into the Orinooko, are of the same dark colour. The Cassi- 
quiare first pours in some white or olive-coloured water. 
Lower down, the Cababuris, Maraviha, and some smaller 
white-water streams help to dilute it, and then the Rio Branco 
adds its flood of milky water. Notwithstanding all this, the 
Rio Negro at its' mouth still appears as black as ink ; only in 
shallow water it is seen to be paler than it is up above, and the 
sands are not dyed of that pure golden tint so remarkable 

On the south of the Amazon there are also some black- 
water streams the Coary, the Teffe, the Jurua, and some 
others. The inhabitants have taken advantage of these, to 
escape from the plague of the mosquitoes, and the towns of 
Coary and Ega are places of refuge for the traveller on the 
Upper Amazon, those annoying insects being scarcely ever 
found on the black waters. The causes of the peculiar colour 
of these rivers are not, I think, very obscure ; it appears to me 
to be produced by the solution of decaying leaves, roots, and 
other vegetable matter. In the virgin forests, in which most 
of these streams have their source, the little brooks and rivulets 
are half choked up with dead leaves and rotten branches, 
giving various brown tinges to the water. When these rivulets 
meet together and accumulate into a river, they of course have 
a deep brown hue, very similar to that of our bog or peat 
water, if there are no other circumstances to modify it. But 
if the streams flow through a district of soft alluvial clay, the 
colour will of course be modified, and the brown completely 
overpowered ; and I think this will account for the anomalies 
observed, of streams in the same districts being of different 
colours. Those whose sources are pretty well known are seen 
to agree with this view. The Rio Negro, the Atabapo, the 
Isanna, and several other smaller rivers, have their sources 


and their whole course in the deep forest ; they flow generally 
over clean granite rocks and beds of sand, and their streams 
are gentle, so as not to wear away the soft parts of their 

The I^a, Japura, and Upper Amazon, on the contrary, flow 
through a long extent of alluvial country, and, having their 
sources on the slopes of the Andes, are much more liable to 
sudden floods, and by their greater velocity bring down a 
quantity of sediment. In fact, it seems clear, that a thorough 
knowledge of the course of each river would enable us to trace 
the colour of its waters to the various peculiarities of the 
country through which it flows. 

With the exception of the streams rising in the Andes, the 
boundaries of the Amazon basin, or the most distant sources 
of its tributaries on the north and south, are comparatively 
little elevated above the level of the sea. The whole basin, 
with the exception of a very small portion, is one great plain 
of the most perfect and regular character. 

The true altitude of the source in the Lake Lauricocha has 
not been ascertained. At Tomependa Humboldt states it to 
be 1,320 feet above the sea: this is as near as possible 2,000 
miles in a straight line from the mouth ; so that the average 
rise is only eight inches in a mile. But if we take the height 
at Tabatinga, on the boundary of Brazil, which, according to 
Spix and Martius is 670 feet, we shall find, the distance 
being about 1,400 miles, that the rise is only five and a half 
inches per mile. If we had the height of Barra do Rio Negro 
accurately, we should no doubt find the rise to that point not 
more than two or three inches in a mile. The distance is, in 
a straight line, about 700 miles, and we may therefore probably 
estimate the height at less than 200, and perhaps not more 
than 150 feet. 

This height I am inclined to believe quite great enough, from 
some observations I made with an accurate thermometer, 
reading to tenths of a degree, on the temperature of boiling 
water. This instrument I received from England, after leaving 
Para. The mean of five observations at Barra, some with river 
and some with rain-water, gave 212-5 as tne temperature of 
boiling water ; a remarkable result, showing that the barometer 
must stand there at more than thirty inches, and that unless it 
is, in the months of May and August, considerably more than 


that at the sea-level, Barra can be but very little elevated above 
the sea. 

For the height of the country about the sources of the Rio 
Negro, Humboldt is our only authority. He gives 812 feet as 
the height of Sao Carlos ; he, however, states that the determina- 
tion is uncertain, owing to an accident happening to the 
barometer ; I may, therefore, though with great diffidence, 
venture to doubt the result. The distance, in a straight line, 
from the mouth of the Rio Negro to Sao Carlos, is rather less 
than from the same point to Tabatinga, whose height is 670 
feet. The current, however, from Tabatinga is much more rapid 
than down the Rio Negro, the lower part of which has so little 
fall, that in the month of January, when the Amazon begins to 
rise, the water enters the mouth of the Rio Negro, and renders 
that river stagnant for several hundred miles up. The falls of 
the Rio Negro I cannot consider to add more than fifty feet to 
the elevation, as above and below them the river is not very 
rapid. Thus, from this circumstance alone, we should be 
disposed to place Sao Carlos at a rather less elevation than 
Tabatinga, or at about 600 feet. My observations up the Rio 
Negro gave consistent results. At Castanheiro, about five 
hundred miles up, the temperature of boiling water was 21 2*4, 
at the mouth of the Uaupes 2i2 , 2, and at a point just below 
Sao Carlos, 2i2'o. This would not give more than 250 feet 
for the height of Sao Carlos above Barra ; and, as we have 
estimated this at 200 feet above the sea, the height of Sao 
Carlos will become 450 feet, which I think will not be found 
far from the truth. 

The velocity of the current varies with the width of the 
stream and the time of the year ; we have little accurate infor- 
mation on this subject. In a Brazilian work on the Province 
of Para, the Madeira is stated to flow 2,970 bracks, or about 
three and a half miles, an hour in the wet season. At Obidos 
I made an observation in the month of November, when the 
Amazon is at the lowest level, and found it four miles an hour ; 
but this by no means represents the current in the rainy season. 
On descending to Para, in the month of June, 1852, I found 
that we often floated down about five miles an hour, and as 
the wind was strong directly up the river, it probably retarded 
us, rather than helped us on, our vessel not being rigged in 
the best manner. 


Martius calculates that 500,000 cubic feet of water per 
second pass Obidos. This agrees pretty well with my own 
calculations of the quantity in the dry season ; when the river 
is full, it is probably much greater. If we suppose, on a 
moderate calculation, that seventy-two inches, or six feet, of 
rain fall annually over the whole Amazon valley, it will amount 
to 1,500,000 cubic feet per second, the whole of which must 
either evaporate, or flow out of the mouth of the Amazon ; so 
that if we increase the amount given by Martius by one half, 
to take in the lower part of the Amazon and to allow for the 
whole year, we shall have the evaporation as one half of the 
rain falling annually. 

It is a fact which has been frequently stated, and which 
seems fully established, that the Amazon carries its fresh waters 
out into the ocean, which it discolours for a distance of a 
hundred and fifty miles from its mouth. It is also generally 
stated that the tide flows up the river as far as Obidos, five 
hundred miles from the mouth. These two statements appear 
irreconcilable, for it is not easy to understand how the tides 
can flow up to such a great distance, and yet no salt water enter 
the river. But the fact appears to be, that the tide never does 
flow up the river at all. The water of the Amazon rises, but 
during the flood as well as the ebb the current is running rapidly 
down. This takes place even at the very mouth of the river, 
for at the island of Mexiana, exposed to the open sea, the 
water is always quite fresh, and is used for drinking all the 
year round. But as salt water is heavier than fresh, it might 
flow up at the bottom, while the river continued to pour down 
above it ; though it is difficult to conceive how this could take 
place to any extent without some salt water appearing at the 

The rising of the water so far up the river can easily be 
explained, and goes to prove also that the slope of the river up 
to where the tide has any influence cannot be great ; for as the 
waters of the ocean rose, the river would of course be banked 
up, the velocity of its current still forcing its waters onward ; 
but it is not easy to see how the stream could be thus elevated 
to a higher level than the waters of the ocean which caused 
the rise, and we should therefore suppose that at Obidos, where 
the tidal rise ceases to be felt, the river is just higher than the 
surface of the ocean at the highest spring-tides. 


A somewhat similar phenomenon is seen at the mouth of 
the Tapajoz. Here, at the end of the dry season, there is but 
a small body of water, and the current is very sluggish. The 
Amazon, however, rises considerably with the tides, and its 
waters then become higher than those of the Tapajoz, and 
they therefore enter into that river and force it back ; we then 
see the Amazon flowing rapidly down, at the same time that 
the Tapajoz is flowing up. 

It seems to be still a disputed question among geographers, 
whether the Para river is or is not a branch of the Amazon. 
From my own observation, I am decidedly of opinion that it 
is not : it appears to me to be merely the outlet of the 
Tocantins and of numerous other small streams. The canal 
or channel of Tagipurii, which connects it with the Amazon, 
and by which all the trade between Para and the interior is 
carried on, is one of a complete network of channels, along 
which the tide ebbs and flows, so as in a great measure to 
disguise the true direction and velocity of its current. It 
seems probable that not a drop of Amazon water finds its way 
by this channel into the Para river, and I ground my opinion 
upon the following facts. 

It is well known, that in a tidal river the ebb-tide will 
continue longer than the flood, because the stream of the river 
requires to be overcome, and thus delays the commencement 
of the flood, while it facilitates that of the ebb. This is very 
remarkable in all the smaller rivers about Para. Taking this 
as our guide, we shall be able to ascertain which way the 
current in the Tagipuru sets, independently of the tide. 

On my journey from Para to the Amazon, our canoe could 
only proceed with the tide, having to wait moored to the bank 
while it was against us, so that we were of course anxious to 
find the time of our tedious stoppages diminished. Up to a 
certain point, we always had to wait more time than we were 
moving, showing that the current set against us and towards 
Para; but after passing that point, where there was a bend, 
and several streams met, we had but a short time to wait, and 
a long ebb in our favour, showing that the current was with us 
or towards the Amazon, whereas it would evidently have been 
different had there been any permanent current flowing from 
the Amazon through the Tagipuru towards Para. 

I therefore look upon the Tagipuru as a channel formed by 


the small streams between the Tocantins and Xingu, meeting 
together about Melgdco, and flowing through a low swampy 
country in two directions, towards the Amazon, and towards 
the Pard, river. 

At high tides the water becomes brackish, even up to the 
city of Para, and a few miles down is quite salt. The tide 
flows very rapidly past Pard, up all the adjacent streams, and 
as far as the middle of the Tagipuru channel ; another proof 
that a very small portion, if any, of the Amazon water is there 
to oppose it. 

The curious phenomenon of the bore, or "piroroco," in the 
rivers Guama and Moju, I have described and endeavoured to 
explain in my Journal, and need not now repeat the account 
of it. (See page 89.) 

Our knowledge of the courses of most of the tributaries of 
the Amazon is very imperfect. The main stream is tolerably 
well laid down in the maps as far as regards its general course 
and the most important bends ; the details, however, are very 
incorrect. The numerous islands and parallel channels, the 
great lakes and offsets, the deep bays, and the varying 
widths of the stream, are quite unknown. Even the French 
survey from Para to Obidos, the only one which can lay claim 
to detailed accuracy, gives no idea of the river, because only 
one channel is laid down. I obtained at Santarem a manu- 
script map of the lower part of the river, much more correct 
than any other I have seen. It was, with most of my other 
papers, lost on my voyage home ; but I hope to be able to 
obtain another copy from the same party. The Madeira and 
the Rio Negro are the only other branches of the Amazon 
whose courses are at all accurately known, and the maps of 
them are very deficient in anything like detail. The other 
great rivers, the Xingu, the Tapajoz, the Punis, Coari, Teffe, 
Jurua, Jutai, Jabari, lea, Japura, etc., though all inserted in 
our maps, are put in quite by guess, or from the vaguest 
information of the general direction of their course. Between 
the Tocantins and the Madeira, and between the Madeira and 
the Uaycali, there are two tracts of country of five hundred 
thousand square miles each, or each twice as large as France, 
and as completely unexplored as the interior of Africa. 

The Rio Negro is one of the most unknown in its charac- 
teristic features ; although, as before stated, its general course 


is laid down with tolerable accuracy. I have narrated in my 
Journal how I was prevented from descending on the north 
side of it, and thus completing my survey of its course. 

The most remarkable feature is the enormous width to 
which it spreads, first, between Barra and the mouth of the 
Rio Branco, and from thence to near St. Isabel. In some 
places, I am convinced, it is between twenty and thirty 
miles wide, and, for a very great distance, fifteen to twenty. 
The sources of the rivers Uaupes, Isanna, Xie, Rio Negro, and 
Guaviare, are very incorrectly laid down. The Serra Tunuhy 
is generally represented as a chain of hills cutting off these 
rivers ; it is, how r ever, a group of isolated granite peaks, about 
two thousand feet high, situated on the north bank of the river 
Isanna, in about i north latitude and 70 west longitude. 
The river rises considerably beyond them, in a flat forest- 
country, and further west than the Rio Negro, for there is a 
path across to the Iniriza, a branch of the Guaviare which does 
not traverse any stream, so that the Rio Negro does not there 

My own journey up the Uaupes extended to near 72 west 
longitude. Five days further in a small canoe, or about a 
hundred miles, is the Jurupari caxoeira, the last fall on the river. 
Above that, traders have been twelve days' journey on a still, 
almost currentless river, which, by the colour of its water, and 
the aspect of its vegetation, resembles the Upper Amazon. For 
all this distance, which must reach very nearly to the base of 
the Andes, the river flows through virgin forest. But the 
Indians in the upper part say there are campos, or plains, 
and cattle, further up; and they possess Spanish knives 
and other articles, showing that they have communications 
with the civilised inhabitants of the ^country to the east of 

I am therefore strongly inclined to believe that the rivers 
Ariari and others, rising about a hundred miles south of Bogota, 
are not, as shown in all our maps, the sources of the Guaviare, 
but of the Uaupe's, and that the basin of the Amazon must 
therefore be here extended to within sixty miles of the city of 
Bogota. This opinion is strengthened by information obtained 
from the Indians of Javita, who annually ascend the Guaviare 
to fish in the dry season, and who state that the river is very 
small, and in its upper part, where some hills occur and the 



forest ends, it is not more than a hundred yards wide ; whereas 
the Uaupes, at the furthest point the traders have reached, 
is still a large river, from a quarter of a mile to a mile in width. 
The Amazon and all its branches are subject, like most 
tropical rivers, to an annual rise and fall of great regularity. 
In the main stream, and in all the branches which flow from 
the Andes, the waters begin to rise in December or January, 
when the rains generally commence, and continue rising till 
June, when the fine weather has just set in. The time when 
the waters begin to fall is about the 21st of June, seldom 
deviating more than a few days from this date. In branches 
which have their sources in a different direction, such as the 
Rio Negro, the time of rising does not coincide. On that 
river the rains do not commence steadily till February or 
March, when the river rises with very great rapidity, and generally 
is quite filled by June, and then begins to fall with the Amazon. 
It thus happens that in the months of January and February, 
when the Amazon is rising rapidly, the Rio Negro is still falling 
in its upper part ; the waters of the Amazon therefore flow 
into the mouth of the Rio Negro, causing that river to remain 
stagnant like a lake, or even occasionally to flow back towards 
its source. The total rise of the Amazon between high and 
low water mark has not been accurately ascertained, as it 
cannot be properly determined without a spirit-level ; it is, 
however, certainly not less than forty, and^probably often fifty 
feet. If therefore we consider the enormous water surface 
raised fifty feet annually, we shall gain from another point of 
view an idea of the immense quantity of water falling annually 
in the Amazon valley. We cannot take the length of the 
Amazon with its main tributaries at less than ten thousand 
miles, and their average width about two miles ; so that there 
will be a surface of twenty thousand square miles of water, 
raised fifty feet every year. But it is not only this surface that 
is raised, for a great extent of land on the banks of all the 
rivers is flooded to a great depth at every time of high water. 
These flooded lands are called, in the language of the country, 
"gapo," and are one of the most singular features of the 
Amazon. Sometimes on one side, sometimes on both, to a 
distance of twenty or thirty miles from the main river, these 
gapds extend on the Amazon, and on portions of all its great 
branches. They are all covered with a dense virgin forest of 


lofty trees, whose stems are every year, during six months, from 
ten to forty feet under water. In this flooded forest the Indians 
have paths for their canoes, cutting across from one river to 
another, which are much used, to avoid the strong current of the 
main stream. From the mouth of the river Tapajoz to Coary, 
on the Solimoes, a canoe can pass, without once entering the 
Amazon : the path lies across lakes, and among narrow inland 
channels, and through miles of dense flooded forest, crossing 
the Madeira, the Purus, and a hundred other smaller streams. 
All along, from the mouth of the Rio Negro to the mouth of 
the lea, is an immense extent of gapo, and it reaches also far up 
into the interior ; for even near the sources of the Rio Negro, 
and on the upper waters of the Uaupes, are extensive tracts 
of land which are annually overflowed. 

In the whole country around the mouth of the Amazon, 
round the great island of Marajd, and about the mouths of 
the Tocantins and Xingu, the diurnal and semi-monthly tides are 
most felt, the annual rise and fall being almost lost. Here the 
low lands are overflowed at all the spring-tides, or every fort- 
night, subjecting all vegetation to another peculiar set of 
circumstances. Considerable tracts of land, still covered with 
vegetation, are so low, that they are flooded at every high 
water, and again vary the conditions of vegetable growth. 


Fully to elucidate the Geology of the Amazon valley, requires 
much more time and research than I was able to devote to it. 
The area is so vast, and the whole country being covered with 
forests renders natural sections so comparatively scarce, that 
the few distant observations one person can make will lead to 
no definite conclusions. 

It is remarkable that I was never able to find any fossil 
remains whatever, not even a shell, or a fragment of fossil 
wood, or anything that could lead to a conjecture as to the 
state in which the valley existed at any former period. We 
are thus unable to assign the geological age to which any of 
the various beds of rock belong.* 

My notes, and a fine series of specimens of the rocks of the Rio 

* The sandstone rocks of Montealegre have since been ascertained to be 
of cretaceous age. 


Negro, were lost, and I have therefore very few materials to go 

Granite seems to be, in South America, more extensively 
developed than in any other part of the world. Darwin and 
Gardner found it in every part of the interior cf Brazil, in La 
Plata, and Chile. Up the Xingu Prince Adalbert met with 
it. Over the whole of Venezuela and New Granada, it was 
found by Humboldt. It seems to form all the mountains in 
the interior of Guiana, and it was met with by myself over the 
whole of the upper part of the Rio Negro, and far up the 
Uaupes towards the Andes. 

From what I could see of the granitic formation of the 
Upper Rio Negro, it appeared to be spread out in immense 
undulating areas, the hollows of which, being filled up with 
alluvial deposits, form those beds of earth and clay which occur, 
of various dimensions, everywhere in the midst of the granite 
formation. In these places grow the lofty virgin forests, while 
on the scantily covered granite rocks, and where beds of sand 
occur, are the more open catinga forests, so different in their 
aspect and peculiar in their vegetation. What strikes one 
most in this great formation, is its almost perfect flatness. 
There are no ranges of mountains, or even slightly elevated 
plateaus ; all is level, except the abrupt peaks that rise suddenly 
from the plain, to a height of from one hundred to three thou- 
sand feet. In the Upper Rio Negro these peaks are very 
numerous. The first is the Serra de Jacami, a little above 
St. Isabel ; it rises immediately from the bank of the river, on 
the south side, to a height of about six hundred feet. Several 
others are scattered about, but the Serras de Curicuriari are 
the most lofty. They consist of a group of three or four moun- 
tains, rising abruptly to the height of near three thousand feet ; 
towards their summits are immense precipices and jagged 
peaks. Higher up, on the same river, is another group of 
rather less height. On the Uaupes are numerous hills, some 
conical, others dome-shaped, but all keeping the same character 
of abrupt elevations, quite independent of the general profile 
of the country. About the falls of the river Uaupes there are 
small hills of granite, broken about in the greatest confusion. 
Great chasms or bowls occur, and slender pillars of rock rise 
above the surrounding forest like dead trunks of giant trees. Up 
the river Isanna, the Tunuhy mountains are a similar isolated 



a Fragments embedded in granite, b. Granite with twisted veins, c. Strati- 
fied rocks protruded through granite. 


Plate IX. 


group. The Cocoi is a quadrangular or cubical mass, about 
a thousand feet in elevation, which forms the boundary between 
Brazil and Venezuela j and behind it are the Pirapocd, and 
the serras of the Cababurfs, which seem rather more extensive, 
and form something more like a connected range of hills. 

But the great peculiarity of them all is, that the country 
does not perceptibly rise to their bases ; they spring up 
abruptly, as if elevated by some local isolated force. I ascended 
one of the smaller of these serras as far as practicable, and 
have recorded my impressions of it in my Journal. (See 
page 153.) 

The isolation and abrupt protrusion of these mountains is 
not, however, altogether without parallel in the Andes itself. 
This mighty range, from all the information I can obtain, rises 
with almost equal abruptness from an apparently level plain. 
The Andes of Quito, and southward to the Amazon, is like a 
hugh rocky rampart, bounding the great plain which extends in 
one unbroken imperceptible slope from the Atlantic Ocean to 
its base. It is one of the grandest physical features of the 
earth, this vast unbroken plain, that mighty and precipitous 

The granitic rocks of the Rio Negro in general contain very 
little mica ; in some places, however, that mineral is abundant, 
and exists in large plates. Veins of pure quartz are common, 
some of very great size ; and numerous veins or dykes of 
granite, of a different colour or texture. The direction of 
these is generally nearer east and west, than north and 

Just below the falls of the Rio Negro are some coarse sand- 
stone rocks, apparently protruding through the granite, dipping 
at an angle of 6o or 70 south-south-west. (Plate IX. c.) Near 
the same place a large slab of granite rock exhibits quantities 
of curiously twisted or folded quartz veins (Plate IX. 3.), which 
vary in size from a line to some inches in diameter, and are 
folded in a most minute and regular manner. 

On an island in the river, near this place, are finely stratified 
crystalline rocks, dipping south from 70 to vertical, and 
sometimes waved and twisted. 

The granite often exhibits a concentric arrangement of 
laminae, particularly in the large dome-shaped masses in the 
bed of the river (Plate X. a. c), or in portions protruding from 


the ground (Plate X. b). Near Sao Gabriel, and in the 
Uaups, large masses of pure quartz rock occur, and the 
shining white precipices of the serras are owing, I have no 
doubt, to the same cause. At Pimichin, near the source of 
the Rio Negro, the granite contains numerous fragments of 
stratified sandstone rock imbedded in it (Plate IX. a) ; I did 
not notice this so distinctly at any other locality. 

High up the river Uaupe's there is a very curious formation 
All along the river-banks there are irregular fragments of rocks, 
with their interstices filled up with a substance that looks 
exactly like pitch. On examination, it is found to be a 
conglomerate of sand, clay, and scoriae, sometimes very hard, 
but often rotten and easily breaking to pieces ; its position 
immediately suggests the idea of its having been liquid, for the 
fragments of rocks appear to have sunk in it. 

Coarse volcanic scoriae, with a vitreous surface, are found 
over a very wide area. They occur at Caripe, near Para, 
above Baiao, in the Tocantins, at the mouth of the Tapajoz, 
at Villa Nova, on the Amazon, above Barra, on the Rio 
Negro, and again up the Uaupes. A small conical hill behind 
the town of Santarem, at the mouth of the Tapajoz, has all the 
appearance of being a volcanic cone. 

The neighbourhood of Para consists entirely of a coarse 
iron sandstone, which is probably a continuation of the rocks 
observed , by Mr. Gardner at Maranham and in the Province of 
Piauhy, and which he considered to belong to the chalk 
formation. Up the Tocantins we found fine crystalline 
stratified rocks, coarse volcanic conglomerates, and fine-grained 
slates. At the falls were metamorphic slates and other hard 
crystalline rocks; many of these split into flat slabs, well 
adapted for building, or even for paving, instead of the stones 
now imported from Portugal into Para. In the serras of 
Montealegre, on the north bank of the Amazon, are a great 
variety of rocks, coarse quartz conglomerates, fine crystalline 
sandstones, soft beds of yellow and red sandstones, and 
indurated clay rocks. These beds are all nearly horizontal, 
but are much cleft and shattered vertically ; they are alternately 
hard and soft, and by their unequal decay have formed the 
hanging stones and curious cave described in my Journal. 

The general impression produced by the examination of the 
country is, that here we see the last stage of a process that has 


Plate X. 


been going on, during the whole period of the elevation of the 
Andes and the mountains of Brazil and Guiana, from the 
ocean. At the commencement of this period, the greater 
portion of the valleys of the Amazon, Orinooko, and La Plata 
must have formed a part of the ocean, separating the groups of 
islands (which those elevated lands formed on their first 
appearance) from each other. The sediment carried down 
into this sea by the rapid streams, running down the sides of 
these mountains, would tend to fill up and level the deeper 
and more irregular depressions, forming those large tracts of 
alluvial deposits we now find in the midst of the granite 
districts. At the same time volcanic forces were in operation, 
as shown by the isolated granite peaks which in many places 
rise out of the flat forest district, like islands from a sea of 
verdure, because their lower slopes, and the valleys between 
them, have been covered and filled up by the sedimentary 
deposits. This simultaneous action of the aqueous and 
volcanic forces, of submarine earthquakes and marine currents, 
shaking up, as it were, and levelling the mass of sedimentary 
matter brought down from the now increasing surface of dry 
land, is what has produced that marvellous regularity of surface, 
that gradual and imperceptible slope, which exists over such an 
immense area.* 

At the point where the mountains of Guiana approach 
nearest to the chain of the Andes, the volcanic action appears 
to have been continued in the interval between them, throwing 
up the serras of Curicuriari, Tunuhy, and the numerous 
smaller granite mountains of the Uaupes ; and it is here 
probably that dry land first appeared, connecting Guiana and 
New Granada, and forming that slightly elevated ridge which 
is now the watershed between the basins of the Amazon and 
Orinooko. The same thing occurs in the southern part of the 
continent, for it is where the mountains of Brazil, and the 
eastern range of the Bolivian Andes, stretch out to meet each 
other, that the sedimentary deposits in that part appear to have 
been first raised above the water, and thus to have determined 
the limits of the basin of the Amazon on the south. The 
Amazon valley would then have formed a great inland gulf or 

* The isolated granite domes and pillars show that the whole area has 
been formerly covered with thick sedimentary rocks, which have been 
removed by denudation. 


sea, about two thousand miles long and seven or eight hundred 

The rivers and mountain-torrents pouring into it on every 
side, would gradually fill up this great basin ; and the volcanic 
action still visible in the scoriae of the Tocantins and Tapajoz, 
and the shattered rocks of Montealegre, would all tend to the 
levelling of the vast area, and to determining the channels of 
the future rivers. This process, continuing for ages, would at 
length narrow this inland sea, almost within the limits of what 
is now gapo, or flooded land. Ridges, gradually elevated a 
few feet above the waters, would separate the tributary streams ; 
and then the eddies and currents would throw up sandbanks 
as they do now, and gradually define the limits of the river, as 
we now see it. And changes are yet going on. New islands 
are yearly forming in the stream, large tracts of flooded land 
are being perceptibly raised by the deposits upon them, and 
the numerous great lakes are becoming choked with aquatic 
plants, and filled up with sediment. 

The large extent of flat land on the banks of the river will 
still continue to be flooded, till some renewed earthquakes 
raise it gradually above the waters ; during which time the 
stream will work for itself a wider and deeper bed, capable of 
containing its accumulated flood. In the course of ages per 
haps this might be produced by the action of the river itself, 
for at every annual inundation a deposit of sediment is formed, 
and these lands must therefore be rising, and would in time 
become permanently elevated above the highest rise of the 
river. This, however, would take a very long time, for as the 
banks rose, the river, unable to spread its waters over the 
adjoining country, would swell higher, and flow more rapidly 
than before, and so overflow a country elevated above the 
level of its former inundations. 

The complete history of these changes, the periods of 
elevation and of repose, the time when the dividing ridges 
first rose above the waters, and the comparative antiquity of 
the tributary streams, cannot be ascertained till the country 
has been more thoroughly explored, and the organic remains, 
which must doubtless exist, be brought forward, to give us 
more accurate information respecting the birth and growth of 
the Amazon. 

CbniJuira&t/es Currva<e<i vt \PcucL auc^ Zjcrud&ns 

TAts lAree^ 4^/Jur- ecc^uoa J-A^cc A*, -Zfetvttf erf h& J^/vesfr 
7Vte fccv ^cw&ts cu^i/as s&ew ^4e Pu<r/te<sd and uw/esd 

Plate XI. 



The climate of the Amazon valley seems remarkable for 
uniformity of temperature, and for a regular supply of moisture. 
There are, in most parts of it, six months' wet, and six months' 
dry season, neither of which are so severe as in some other 
tropical countries. From June to December is the dry, and 
from January to May the wet season. In the dry season there 
are a few occasional rains, especially about All Saints' day, in 
November ; and during the wet season there are intervals of 
fine weather, and often bright mornings, and many days of 
gentle misty rain. 

This is the general character of the climate over the whole 
of the main stream of the Amazon and its immediate neigh- 
bourhood. There are, however, remarkable deviations from 
this general routine, in particular localities. Para itself is one 
of these exceptional places. Here the seasons are so modified, 
as to render the climate one of the most agreeable in the 
world. During the whole of the dry season, scarcely ever 
more than three days or a week passes without a slight thunder- 
storm and heavy shower, which comes on about four in the 
afternoon and by six has cleared oft" again, leaving the atmo- 
sphere delightfully pure and cool and all vegetable and animal 
life refreshed and invigorated. Had I only judged of the 
climate of Para from my first residence of a year, I might be 
thought to have been impressed by the novelty of the tropical 
climate ; but on my return from a three years' sojourn on the 
Upper Amazon and Rio Negro, I was equally struck with the 
wonderful freshness and brilliancy of the atmosphere, and the 
balmy mildness of the evenings, which are certainly not equalled 
in any other part I have visited. 

The wet season has not so many stormy and cloudy days 
as in other parts. Sunshine and rain alternate, and the days 
are comparatively bright and cheerful, even when rainy. 
Generally, the variation of the thermometer in any one day 
does not exceed 15 ; 75 being the lowest, and 9othe highest. 
The greatest variation in one day is not, I think, ever more 
than 20 ; and in four years, the lowest and highest tempera- 
tures were 70 and 95 , giving only an extreme variation of 25 . 
A more equable climate probably does not exist on the earth, 
(See Diagram, Plate XL) 


On the Guiana side of the Amazon, in the islands of 
Mexiana and Marajo, the seasons are more strongly marked 
than even higher up the river. In the dry season, for about 
three months, no rain ever falls ; and in the wet it is almost 

But it is in the country about the falls of the Rio Negro 
that the most curious modification of the seasons occur. 
Here the regular tropical dry season has almost disappeared, 
and a constant alternation of showers and sunshine occurs, 
almost all the year round. In the months of June, July, 
August, and September, when the Amazonian summer is in all 
its glory, we have here only a little finer weather about June, 
and then rain again as much as ever ; till, in January or 
February, when the wet season in the Amazon commences, 
there is generally here a month or two of fine warm weather. 
It is then that the river, which has been very slowly falling 
since July, empties rapidly, and in March is generally at its 
lowest ebb. In the beginning of April it suddenly begins to 
rise, and by the end of May has risen twenty feet, and then 
continues slowly rising till July, when it reaches its highest 
point, and begins to fall with the Amazon. The district of the 
greatest quantity of rain, or rather of the greatest number of 
rainy days, seems to be very limited, extending only from a 
little below the falls of Sao Gabriel to Marabitanas at the con- 
fines of Brazil, where the Pirapoco and Cocoi mountains, and 
the Serra of Tunuhy, seem to form a separation from the 
Venezuela district, where there is a more regular summer in 
the months of December, January, and February. 

The water of the Rio Negro in the month of September did 
not vary in temperature more than two degrees. I unfor- 
tunately lost my thermometers, or L had intended making a 
regular series of observations on the waters of the higher parts 
of the rivers I ascended. 

The extreme variation of the barometer at Para* for three 
years was only three-tenths of an inch (see diagram, Plate 
XII.). The mean height, with all the necessary corrections, 
would seem to be almost exactly thirty inches ; I have, how- 
ever, already given my reasons for believing that there is a 
considerable difference in the pressure of the atmosphere in 
the interior of the country. In the month of May some very 
cold days are said to occur annually on the Upper Amazon 

Jnecw dfrrw6/uitr& Pressure a Paras Jor 3t/ca/ j. 

















^K ,vk 










Plate XII. 


and Rio Negro ; but I never myself experienced anything of 
the kind worthy of notice. Many intelligent persons have 
assured me that the cold is sometimes \ so severe that the in- 
habitants suffer much, and, what is much more extraordinary, 
the fishes in the rivers die of it. Allowing this to be the fact, 
I am quite unable to account for it, as it is difficult to conceive 
that a diminution of temperature of rive or ten degrees, which 
is as much as ever takes place, can produce any effect upon 

I have an authentic account of hail having once fallen on 
the Upper Amazon, a remarkable occurrence at a place only 
three degrees south of the equator, and about two hundred 
feet above the level of the sea. The children were out at 
play, and brought it to their parents, astonished at a substance 
falling from the clouds quite new to them, and which was so 
remarkably cold. The person who told me was a Portuguese, 
and his information can be perfectly relied on. 



Perhaps no country in the world contains such an amount of 
vegetable matter on its surface as the valley of the Amazon. 
Its entire extent, with the exception of some very small 
portions, is covered with one dense and lofty primeval forest, 
the most extensive and unbroken which exists upon the earth. 
It is the great feature of the country, that which at once 
stamps it as a unique and peculiar region. It is not 
here as on the coasts of southern Brazil, or on the shores of 
the Pacific, where a few days' journey suffices to carry us 
beyond the forest district, and into the parched plains and 
rocky serras of the interior. Here we may travel for weeks 
and months inland, in any direction, and find scarcely an acre 
of ground unoccupied by trees. It is far up in the interior, 
where the great mass of this mighty forest is found ; not on the 
lower part of the river, near the coast, as is generally supposed. 

A line from the mouth of the river Parnaiba, in long. 41 
30' W., drawn due west towards Guayaquil, will cut the boundary 
of the great forest in long. 7 8 30', and, for the whole distance 
of about 2,600 miles, will have passed through the centre of it, 
dividing it into two nearly equal portions. 

For the first thousand miles, or as far as long. 5 6 W., the 
width of the forest from north to south is about four hundred 
miles ; it then stretches out both to the north and south, so 
that in long. 67 W. it extends from 7 N., on the banks of the 
Orinoko, to 18 S., on the northern slope of the Andes of 
Bolivia, a distance of more than seventeen hundred miles. 
From a point about sixty miles south-east of Tabatinga, a circle 
may be drawn of 1,100 miles in diameter, the whole area of 
which will be virgin forest. 


Along the Andes of Quito, from Pasto to Guancabamba, it 
reaches close up to the eastern base of the mountains, and 
even ascends their lower slopes. In the moderately elevated 
country between the river Huallaga and Maranon, the forest 
extends only over the eastern portion, commencing in the 
neighbourhood of Moyobamba. Further on, to the east of 
Cuzco and La Paz, it spreads high up on the slopes of the 
Bolivian Andes, and passing a little to the west of Santa Cruz 
de la Sierra, turns off to the north-east, crossing the Tapajdz 
and Xingu rivers somewhere about the middle of their course, 
and the Tocantins not far above its junction with the Araguaya, 
and then passes over to the river Parnaiba, which it follows to 
its mouth. 

The Island of Marajo, at the mouth of the Amazon, has its 
eastern half open plains, while in the western the forest 
commences. On the north of the Amazon, from its mouth to 
beyond Montealegre, are open plains ; but opposite the mouth 
of the Tapajoz at Santarem, the forest begins, and appears to 
extend up to the Serras of Carumani, on the Rio Branco, and 
thence stretches west, to join the wooded country on the 
eastern side of the Orinoko. West of that river, it commences 
south of the Vichada, and, crossing over the upper waters of 
the Guaviare and Uaupes, reach the Andes east of Pasto, 
where we commenced our survey. 

The forests of no other part of the world are so extensive 
and unbroken as this. Those of Central Europe are trifling 
in comparison ; nor in India are they very continuous or 
extensive ; while the rest of Asia seems to be a country of 
thinly wooded plains, and steppes, and deserts. Africa 
contains some large forests, situated on the east and west 
coasts, and in the interior south of the equator ; but the whole 
of them would bear but a small proportion to that of the 
Amazon. In North America alone is there anything approach- 
ing to it, where the whole country east of the Mississippi and 
about the great lakes, is, or has been, an almost uninterrupted 
extent of woodland. 

In a general survey of the earth, we may therefore look upon 
the New World as pre-eminently the land of forests, contrasting 
strongly with the Old, where steppes and deserts are the most 
characteristic features. 

The boundaries of the Amazonian forest have not hitherto 


been ascertained with much accuracy. The open plains of 
Caguan have been supposed much more extensive than they 
really are ; but I have very nearly determined their limits to 
the south and east, by the observations I made, and the 
information I obtained in my voyage up the Uaupe's. Again, 
on the Uaycali there is a district marked on the maps as the 
" Pampas del Sacramento," which has been supposed to be an 
open plain ; but the banks of the Amazon up to the mouth of 
the Uaycali are clothed with thick forest, and Messrs. Smyth 
and Lowe, who crossed the Pampa in two places, found no 
open plains ; and from their observations and those of Lieut. 
Mawe we must extend the forest district up to near Moya- 
bamba, west of the Huallaga, and to the foot of the mountains 
east of Pasco and Tarma. I was informed by a native of 
Ecuador, well acquainted with the country, that the Napo, 
Tigre, Pastaza, and the adjacent rivers all flow through dense 
forest, which extends up even to Baeza and Canelos and over 
all the lower slopes of the Andes. Tschudi informs us that 
the forest districts commence on all the north and east slopes 
of the Andes of Peru, near Huanta, and at Urubamba north 
of Cuzco. I have learnt from a gentleman, a native of La Paz, 
that immediately on crossing the Bolivian Andes from that 
city and from Oropessa and Santa Cruz, you enter the great 
forests, which extend over all the tributaries of the Madeira. 
Traders up the Purus and all the southern branches of the 
Upper Amazon, neither meet with, nor hear accounts of, any 
open land, so that there is little doubt but that the extent here 
pointed out is one vast, ever-verdant, unbroken forest. 

The forests of the Amazon are distinguished from those of 
most other countries, by the great variety of species of trees 
composing them. Instead of extensive tracts covered with 
pines, or oaks, or beeches, we scarcely ever see two individuals 
of the same species together, except in certain cases, principally 
among the Palms. A great extent of flooded land about the 
mouth of the Amazon, is covered with the Miriti Palms 
(Mauritia flexuosa and M. vi?iiferd), and in many places the 
Assai {Euterpe edulis) is almost equally abundant. Generally, 
however, the same species of tree is repeated only at distant 
intervals. On a road for ten miles through the forest near 
Para, there are only two specimens of the Masserandiiba, or 
Cow-tree, and all through the adjoining district they are 


equally scarce. On the Javita road, on the Upper Rio Negro, 
I observed the same thing. On the Uaupes, I once sent 
my Indians into the forest to obtain a board of a particular 
kind of tree ; they searched for three days, and found only a 
few young trees, none of them of sufficient size. 

Certain kinds of hard woods are used on the Amazon and 
Rio Negro, for the construction of canoes and the schooners 
used in the navigation of the river. The difficulty of getting 
timber of any one kind for these vessels is so great, that they 
are often constructed of half-a-dozen different sorts of wood, 
and not always of the same colours or degrees of hardness. 
Trees producing fruit, or with medicinal properties, are often 
so widely scattered, that two or three only are found within a 
reasonable distance of a village, and supply the whole population. 
This peculiarity of distribution must prevent a great trade in 
timber for any particular purpose being carried on here. The 
india-rubber and Brazil-nut trees are not altogether exceptions 
to this rule, and the produce from them is collected over an 
immense extent of country, to which the innumerable lakes 
and streams offer a ready access. 

The chief district from which india-rubber is procured, is in 
the country between Para and the Xingu. On the Upper 
Amazon and the Rio Negro it is also found, but is not yet 

The Brazil-nuts, from the Bertholletia excelsa, are brought 
chiefly from the interior ; the greater part from the country 
around the junction of the Rio Negro and Madeira with the 
Amazon rivers. This tree takes more than a whole year to 
produce and ripen its fruits. In the month of January I 
observed the trees loaded at the same time with flowers and 
ripe fruits, both of which were falling from the tree ; from these 
flowers would be formed the nuts of the following year ; so that 
they probably require eighteen months for their complete 
development from the bud. The fruits, which are nearly as 
hard and heavy as cannon-balls, fall with tremendous force 
from the height of a hundred feet, crashing through the 
branches and undergrowth, and snapping off large boughs 
which they happen to strike against. Persons are sometimes 
killed by them, and accidents are not unfrequent among the 
Indians engaged in gathering them. 

The fruits are all procured as they fall from the tree. They 


are collected together in small heaps, where they are opened 
with an axe, an operation that requires some practice and skill, 
and the triangular nuts are taken out and carried to the canoes 
in baskets. Other trees of the same family {Lecyt/iidecs) are 
very abundant, and are remarkable for their curious fruits, 
which have lids, and are shaped like pots or cups, whence they 
are called " pot-trees." Some of the smaller ones are called by 
the natives " cuyas de macaco," monkeys' calabashes. 

The next most important vegetable product of the Amazon 
district, is the Salsaparilha, the roots of Smilax syphilitica, and 
perhaps of other allied species. This plant appears to occur 
over the whole forest-district of the Amazon, from Venezuela 
to Bolivia, and from the Lower Amazon to Peru. It is not 
generally found near the great rivers, but far in the interior, on 
the banks of the small streams, and on dry rocky ground. It 
is principally dug up by the Indians, often by the most 
uncivilised tribes, and is the means of carrying on a consider- 
able trade with them. 

The Brazilian nutmegs, produced by the Necta7idriun Puchury, 
grow in the country between the Rio Negro and Japura. 

The Cumaru, or Tonquin-beans, are very abundant on the 
Upper Rio Negro, and are also found near Santarem on the 

A highly odoriferous bark, called by the Portuguese " Cravo 
de Maranhno " (Cloves of Maranham), is produced by a small 
tree growing only on one or two small tributaries of the Rio 

A peculiar transparent oil, with an odour of turpentine, 
called Sassafras by the Venezuelans, is abundantly obtained by 
tapping a tree, common on the Upper Rio Negro, whence it is 
exported to Barra, and used for mixing oil-colours. In the 
Lower Amazon, a bitter oil, called Andiroba, much used for 
lamps, is made from a forest fruit. 

A whitish resin, with a strong camphorous smell, is pro- 
duced very abundantly in the Rio Negro and the Amazon, and 
is commonly used as pitch for the canoes and all the larger 
vessels of the country ; while the inner bark of young trees of 
the Bertholletia excelsa^ or Brazil-nut tree, is used instead of 
oakum for caulking. 

Among the forest-trees of the Amazon, the Leguminosce. are 
much the most abundant in species, and they also most attract 


attention from their curious bean-like fruits, often of extra- 
ordinary size or length. Some of the Ingas, and allied genera, 
have pods a yard long, and very slender; while others are 
short, and three or four inches wide. There are some curious 
fruits of this family, which grow on a stalk three to five feet 
long and very slender, appearing as if some one had suspended 
a number of pods from the branches by long strings. 

The flowers of this family are among the most brilliant and 
conspicuous; and their often finely-cut pinnate foliage has a 
very elegant appearance. 

The following is a list of the principal vegetable productions 
of commercial value in the Amazon forests : 

India-rubber, from the sap of the Siphonia elastica. 

Brazil-nuts, the seeds of the Bertholletia excelsa. 

Salsaparilha, the roots of Smilax syphilitica. 

Tonquin-beans, the seeds of Dipteryx odorata. 

Puxiri, the fruit of Nectandrum Puchury. 

Sassafras oil, tree not known. 

Andiroba oil, from the fruit of an unknown tree. 

Crajuru, a red colour prepared from the leaves of Bignonia 

Pitch exudes from a forest tree. 

Cacao, the seeds of Theobroma Cacao and other species. 

Cravo, from an unknown tree. 

Canella, the bark of Canella alba. 

Vanilla, the fruits of various species of Vanilla. 

Guarana, a preparation from a fruit, grated in water, to form 
an agreeable and medicinal drink. 

Piassaba, the fibres from the petioles of a palm, Leo- 
pold inia n. s. 

Balsam Capivi, from the Cofiaifera officinalis. 

Silk cotton, from various species of Bombax. 

In many parts of my Journal, I have expressed an opinion 
that travellers have exaggerated the beauty and brilliancy of 
tropical vegetation, and on a calm review of all I have seen in 
the districts I have visited, I must repeat it. 

There is a grandeur and solemnity in the tropical forest, 
but little of beauty or brilliancy of colour. The huge buttress 
trees, the fissured trunks, the extraordinary air roots, the 




twisted and wrinkled climbers, and the elegant palms, are what 
strike the attention and fill the mind with admiration and sur- 
prise and awe. But all is gloomy and solemn, and one feels a 
relief on again seeing the blue sky, and feeling the scorching 
rays of the sun. 

It is on the roadside and on the rivers' banks that we see 
all the beauty of the tropical vegetation. There we find a 
mass of bushes and shrubs and trees of every height, rising 
over one another, all exposed to the bright light and the fresh 
air ; and putting forth, within reach, their flowers and fruit, 
which, in the forest, only grow far up on the topmost branches. 
Bright flowers and green foliage combine their charms, and 
climbers with their flowery festoons cover over the bare and 
decaying stems. Yet, pick out the loveliest spots, where the 
most gorgeous flowers of the tropics expand their glowing 
petals, and for every scene of this kind, we may find another 
at home of equal beauty, and with an equal amount of brilliant 

Look at a field of buttercups and daisies, a hill-side covered 
with gorse and broom, a mountain rich with purple heather, 
or a forest-glade, azure with a carpet of wild hyacinths, and 
they will bear a comparison with any scene the tropics can 
produce. I have never seen anything more glorious than an 
old crab-tree in full blossom ; and the horse-chesnut, lilac, and 
laburnum will vie with the choicest tropical trees and shrubs. 
In the tropical waters are no more beautiful plants than our 
white and yellow water-lilies, our irises, and flowering rush ; for 
I cannot consider the flower of the Vidoi'ia regia more beautiful 
than that of the Nymphcca alba, though it may be larger ; nor 
is it so abundant an ornament of the tropical waters as the 
latter is of ours. 

But the question is not to be decided by a comparison of 
individual plants, or the effects they may produce in the land- 
scape, but on the frequency with which they occur, and the 
proportion the brilliantly coloured bear to the inconspicuous 
plants. My friend Mr. R. Spruce, now investigating the 
botany of the Amazon and Rio Negro, assures me that by far 
the greater proportion of plants gathered by him have incon- 
spicuous green or white flowers ; and with regard to the 
frequency of their occurrence, it was not an uncommon thing 
for me to pass days travelling up the rivers, without seeing 


any striking flowering tree or shrub. This is partly owing to 
the flowers of most tropical trees being quickly deciduous : they 
no sooner open, than they begin to fall ; the Melastomas in 
particular, generally burst into flower in the morning, and the 
next day are withered, and for twelve months the tree bears 
no more flowers. This will serve to explain why the tropical 
flowering trees and shrubs do not make so much show as 
might be expected. 

From the accounts of eye-witnesses, I believe that the forests 
of the southern United States present a more gay and brilliant 
appearance than those of tropical America. 

Humboldt, in his " Aspects of Nature," repeatedly remarks 
on the contrast between the steppes of Tartary and the llanos 
of the Orinooko. The former, in the temperate zone, are gay 
with the most brilliant flowers ; while the latter, in the tropics, 
produce little but grasses and sedges, and only few and incon- 
spicuous flowering plants. Mr. Darwin mentions the brilliancy 
of the flowers adorning the plains of Monte Video, which, 
with the luxuriant thistles of the Pampas, seems hardly 
equalled in the campos of tropical Brazil, where, with some 
exceptions, the earth is brown and sterile. The countless 
beautiful geraniums and heaths of the Cape cease on entering 
the tropics, and we have no account of any plants equally 
striking and brilliant supplying their place. 

What we may fairly allow of tropical vegetation is, that there 
is a much greater number of species, and a greater variety of 
forms, than in the temperate zones. Among this great variety 
occur, as we might reasonably expect, the most striking and 
brilliant flowers, and the most remarkable forms of stem and 
foliage. But there is no evidence to show that the proportion 
of species bearing brightly coloured, compared to those bearing 
inconspicuous flowers, is any greater in the tropics than in the 
temperate regions ; and with regard to individuals which is, 
after all, what produces the effects of vegetation it seems 
probable that there is a greater mass of brilliant colouring and 
picturesque beauty, produced by plants in the temperate, than 
in the tropical regions. 

There are several reasons which lead us to this conclusion. 
In the tropics, a greater proportion of the surface is covered 
either with dense forests or with barren deserts, neither of 
which can exhibit many flowers. Social plants are less common 


in the tropics, and thus masses of colour are less frequently 
produced. Individual objects may be more brilliant and 
striking, but the general effect will not be so great, as that of 
a smaller number of less conspicuous plants, grouped together 
in masses of various colours, so strikingly displayed in the 
meadows and groves of the temperate regions. 

The changing hues of autumn, and the tender green of 
spring, are particular beauties which are not seen in tropical 
regions, and which are quite unsurpassed by anything that 
exists there. The wide expanse of green meadows and rich 
pastures is also wanting ; and, however much individual objects 
may please and astonish, the effect of the distant landscape is 
decidedly superior in the temperate parts of the world. 

The sensations of pleasure we experience on seeing natural 
objects, depends much upon association of ideas with their 
uses, their novelty, or their history. What causes the sensa- 
tions we feel on gazing upon a waving field of golden corn ? 
Not, surely, the mere beauty of the sight, but the associations 
we connect with it. We look on it as a national blessing, as 
the staff of life, as the most precious produce of the soil ; and 
this makes it beautiful in our eyes. 

So, in the tropics, the broad-leaved banana, beautiful in 
itself, becomes doubly so, when looked upon as producing a 
greater quantity of food in a given time, and on a limited 
space, than any other plant. We take it as a type of the 
luxuriance of the tropics, we look at its broad leaves, the 
produce of six months' growth, we think of its delicious and 
w r holesome fruit : and all this is beauty, as we gaze upon it. 

In the same manner, a field of sugar-cane or an extensive 
plantation of cotton produces similar sensations : we think of 
the thousands they will feed and clothe, and the thought 
clothes them with beauty. 

Palms too are subject to the same influence. They are 
elegant and graceful in themselves ; they are almost all useful 
to man ; they are associated with the brightness and warmth 
of the tropics : and thus they acquire an additional interest, a 
new beauty. 

To the naturalist everything in the tropics acquires this kind 
of interest, for some reason or other. One plant is a tropical 
form, and he examines it with curiosity and delight. Another 
is allied to some well-known European species, and this too 


attracts his attention. The structure of some are unknown, 
and he is pleased to examine them. The locality of another 
is doubtful, and he feels a great pleasure in determining it. 
He is ever examining individual objects, and confounds his 
own interest in them, from a variety of causes, with the 
sensations produced by their beauty, and thus is led to give 
exaggerated descriptions of the luxuriance and splendour of 
the vegetation. 

As most travellers are naturalists, this supposition will 
account for the ideas of the tropics generally obtained from 
a perusal of their works. 

If I have come to a different conclusion, it is not that I am 
incapable of appreciating the splendours of tropical scenery, 
but because I believe that they are not of the kind usually 
represented, and that the scenery of our own land is, of its 
own kind, unsurpassed : there is nothing approaching it in the 
tropics, nor is the scenery of the tropics to be found with us. 
There, singular forms of stems and climbers, gigantic leaves, 
elegant palms, and individual plants with brilliant flowers, are 
the characteristic features. Here, an endless carpet of 
verdure, with masses of gay blossoms, the varying hues of the 
foliage, and the constant variety of plain and forest, meadow 
and woodland, more than individual objects, are what fill the 
beholder with delight. 



A. Mammalia. 

Notwithstanding the luxuriance of the vegetation, which 
might be supposed to afford sustenance, directly or indirectly, 
to every kind of animal life, the Amazon valley is remarkably 
deficient in large animals, and of Mammalia generally has a 
smaller number both of species and individuals, than any 
other part of the world of equal extent, except Australia. 
Three small species of deer, which occur but rarely, are the 
only representatives of the vast herds of countless species of 
deer and antelopes and buffaloes which swarm in Africa and 
Asia, and of the wild sheep and goats of Europe and North 
America. The tapir alone takes the place of the elephants 
and rhinoceroses of the Old World. Two or three species of 
large Felidce, and two wild hogs, with the capybara and paca, 
comprise almost all its large game; and these are all thinly 
scattered over a great extent of country, and never occur in 
such large numbers as do the animals representing them in 
other parts of the world. 

Those singular creatures, the sloths, the armadilloes,. and 
the ant-anters, are very generally distributed, but only occur 
singly and sparingly. The small agoutis are perhaps rather 
more plentiful ; but almost the only animals found in any 
numbers are the monkeys, which are abundant, both in species 
and individuals, and are the only mammalia that give some 
degree of life to these trackless forests, which seem peculiarly 
fitted for their development and increase. 

I met with twenty-one species of these animals, some of 
which I had no opportunity of examining. Several others 
exist; but it is necessary to reside for some years in each 



locality, in order to meet with all the different kinds. I sub- 
join a list of the species, with the localities in which they were 


i. Mycetes sem'culus, Geoff, j on the Rio Negro and the 
north bank of the Amazon. 

2. Mycetes car ay a, Gray ; on the Upper Amazon 

3. Mycetes beelzebub, Br. Mus. ; Para. 

4. Lagothrix Humboldtii, Geoff. ; Upper Amazon and west 
of Rio Negro. 

5. Ateles paniscus, Geoff. ; Guiana, north bank of Amazon 
and east of Rio Negro. 

6. Cebus afiella, Erxl. (?) ; Amazon and Rio Negro. 

7. Cebus gracilis, Spix ; Rio Negro and Upper Amazon. 
S. Callithrix sciureus, Geoff. ; the whole Amazon valley. 

9. Callithrix torquatus (amictus, Geoff.) ; Upper Rio Negro. 

10. Callithrix perso7iatus, Geoff. ; south bank of Upper 

11. Nyctipithecus trivirgatus, Humb. ; Upper Rio Negro. 

12. J\ r yctifiithecusfeli?ius,SiAx; Upper Amazon. 

13. Pithecia irrorata (hirsula, Spix); south bank of Upper 

14. Pithecia , north of Upper Amazon. 

15. Brachiurus satanas, Br. Mus. ; Guiana, east bank of 
Rio Negro. 

16. Brachiurus oakary, Spix; Upper Rio Negro. 

17. Brachiurus rubicundus, Isid. ; Upper Amazon. 

18. Brachiurus , south side of Upper Amazon. 

19. Jacchus bicolor, Spix; north of the Amazon and Rio 

20. Jacchus tamarin, Br. Mus. ; Para. 

21. Jacchus n.s., Upper Rio Negro. 

Of the above, the first seven have prehensile tails, a character 
only found among the monkeys of America. The howlers, 
forming the genus Mycetes, are the largest and most powerful. 
They have a bony vessel situated beneath the chin, and a strong 
muscular apparatus in the throat, which assists in producing the 
loud rolling noise from which they derive their name, and 



which appears as if a great number of animals were crying in 
concert. This, however, is not the case ; a full-grown male 
alone makes the howling, which is generally heard at night, or 
on the approach of rain. 

The annexed list of the other larger mammalia of the Amazon 
district, will serve to confirm the statement of the extreme 
poverty of these regions in that class of animals. Owing to 
the loss of my notes and specimens, many of the specific 
names are doubtful : such are marked thus ? 

Phyllostoma hastatum. This is a common bat on the 
Amazon, and is, I believe, the one which does much injury to 
the horses and cattle by sucking their blood ; it also attacks 
men, when it has opportunity. The species of blood-sucking 
bats seem to be numerous in the interior. They do not inhabit 
houses, like many of the frugivorous bats, but enter at dusk 
through any aperture they may find. They generally attack 
the tip of the toe, or sometimes any other part of the body 
that may be exposed. I have myself been twice bitten, once 
on the toe, and the other time on the tip of the nose ; in neither 
case did I feel anything, but awoke after the operation was com- 
pleted : in what way they effect it is still quite unknown. The 
wound is a small round hole, the bleeding of which it is very 
difficult to stop. It can hardly be a bite, as that would awake 
the sleeper ; it seems most probable that it is either a succes- 
sion of gentle scratches with the sharp edge of the teeth, gradu- 
ally wearing away the skin, or a triturating with the point of 
the tongue, till the same effect is produced. My brother was 
frequently bitten by them, and his opinion was, that the bat 
applied one of its long canine teeth to the part, and then flew 
round and round on that as a centre, till the tooth, acting as 
an awl, bored a small hole ; the wings of the bat serving, at 
the same time, to fan the patient into a deeper slumber. He 
several times awoke while the bat was at work, and though 
of course the creature immediately flew away, it was his im- 
pression that the operation was conducted in the manner 
above described. Many persons are particularly annoyed by 
bats, while others are free from their attacks. An old Mulatto 
at Guia, on the Upper Rio Negro, was bitten almost every 
night, and though there were frequently half-a-dozen other 
persons in the room, he would be the party favoured by their 


attentions. Once he came to us with a doleful countenance, 
telling us, he thought the bats meant to eat him up quite, for, 
having covered up his hands and feet in a blanket, they had 
descended beneath his hammock of open network, and, attack- 
ing the most prominent part of his person, had bitten him 
through a hole in his trousers ! We could not help laughing 
at the catastrophe, but to him it was no laughing matter. 

Senhor Brandao, of Manaquery, informed me that he had 
once an Indian girl in his house, who was much subject to the 
attacks of the bats. She was at length so much weakened by 
loss of blood, that fears were entertained of her life, if they 
continued their attacks ; and it was found necessary to send 
her to a distance, where these bloodthirsty animals did not 

The wound made by them is very difficult to heal, especially 
in its usual locality the tip of the great toe, as it generally 
renders a shoe unbearable for a day or two, and forces one to 
the conclusion that, after the first time, for the curiosity of the 
thing, to be bitten by a bat is very disagreeable. They will, 
however, very rarely enter a lighted room, and for this reason 
the practice of burning a lamp all night is almost universal. 

Tapirus Americanus. The Tapir is common over the whole 
Amazon district, but is nowhere very abundant. It feeds on 
leaves and a great many different kinds of fruits, and some- 
times does much injury in the mandiocca-fields of the Indians. 
Its flesh is very good eating, and is considered very wholesome, 
and is even said to be a remedy for the ague. It is a very shy 
and timid animal, wandering about principally at night. When 
the Indian discovers a feeding-place, he builds a stage between 
two trees, about eight feet above the ground, and there stations 
himself soon after dusk, armed with a gun, or with his bow and 
arrow. Though such a heavy animal, the tapir steps as lightly 
as a cat, and can only be heard approaching by the gentle 
rustling of the bushes ; the slightest sound or smell will alarm 
it, and the Indian lies still as death for hours, till the animal 
approaches sufficiently near to be shot, or until, scenting its 
enemy, it makes off in another direction. I have accom- 
panied the Indians on these expeditions, but always without 

Coassus nemorivagus. 

C. rufus, These are the small white and red deer of the 


forests, found in all parts of the Amazon. They have very 
small unbranched horns. 

Mazama campestrisl The "Viado galera," or horned deer 
of the Rio Branco, is probably of this species. It has small 
branched horns, and inhabits the open plains, never the thick 

Dieotylestaiagu. The smaller wild Hog. Taititiiofthe Indians. 

D. labiatus ? The larger species, called by the natives 
" Taiacu." 

There seems to be also a third species, of the same size as 
the last. 

Arctopitheais flacridus ? Preguica real. Ai, (Lingoa Geral). 
The great Sloth. 

Bradypus torquatus. Ai, (Lingoa Geral). These and some 
other species of sloths are not uncommon. They feed entirely 
on leaves, preferring those of the Cecropias. They are frequently 
attacked by the harpy eagle, and are also eaten by the 

Myrmecophagajubata. Tamandua assu, (Lingoa Geral). "The 
great Ant-eater." This animal is rare, but widely distributed. 
During rain it turns its long bushy tail up over its back and 
stands still ; the Indians, when they meet with one, rustle the 
leaves, and it thinks rain is falling, and turning up its tail, they 
take the opportunity of killing it by a blow on the head with a 
stick. It feeds on the large termites, or white ants, tearing up 
with its powerful claws the earth and rotten wood in which 
their nests are made. The Indians positively assert that it 
sometimes kills the jaguar, embracing it and forcing in its 
enormous claws, till they mutually destroy each other. They 
also declare that these animals are all females, and believe that 
the male is the " curupira," or demon of the forests: the 
peculiar organisation of the animal has probably led to this 
error. It lives entirely on the ground. 

Tamci7idua tetradactyhis ? The smaller Prehensile-tailed 
Ant-eater. This animal is entirely arboreal, feeding on the 
tree termites ; it has no nest, and sleeps in a fork of a tree 
with its head bent under its body. 

Cyclothiirns didactylus. Tamanduai, (Lingoa Geral). The 
small Silky-haired Ant-eater, is arboreal, and rather abundant. 
There is another species much smaller, and as white as cotton ; 
but it is rare, and I never met with it. 


Priodonta gigasl Tatuassii, (Lingoa Geral). The great 
Armadillo. Rather scarce. 

Tatusia septemcinctusl Tatu, (Lingoa Geral). This and 
another very small species are the most abundant in the Amazon 
district, but can seldom be procured except by hunting with dogs. 
All the kinds are eaten, and their flesh is very white and delicate. 

Didelphis- . Opossum. Muciira, (LingoaGeral). Several 

species are found. They frequent the neighbourhood of houses, 
and attack poultry. The young are carried in an abdominal 
pouch, like the kangaroos, and have their little prehensile tails 
twisted round that of the mother. 

Hydrochczrus capybara. Capywara, (Lingoa Geral). This 
animal is found on all the river-banks. It feeds on grass, and 
takes to the water and dives when pursued. It is sometimes 
eaten, but is not considered very good. 

Coslogems paca. Paca. (Lingoa Geral). This animal is 
generally abundant. It is nocturnal, and is much esteemed for 
its meat, which is the very best the country produces, being fat, 
delicate, and very tender. 

Dasyprocta nigrica?is, Natt. Black Agouti. Cotia, (Lingoa 
Geral). This species is found on the Rio Negro. 

D. punctata ? Yellow Agouti. This is probably the 
common Amazon species. 

D. agouti? Cotiwya, (Lingoa Geral). A smaller species, 
very widely distributed. All are eaten, but the meat is rather 
dry and tasteless. 

Cercolabes prehetisilis. The Brazilian Porcupine. This 
animal is scarce. It is eaten by the Indians. 

Echimys . Several species of these curious, spinous, rat- 
like animals are found on the Upper Rio Negro. 

Cercoleptes caudivolvus. The Potto. It is a nocturnal 
animal, and inhabits the banks of the Upper Amazon. 

Nasua olivacea? Coati. Two species, the "Coati" and 
the " Coati mondi " of the Indians, are found on the 

Lontra Brasiliensis ? The Brazilian Otter, is abundant on 
the Rio Negro. 

1-1 AT 4-4 

Galera barbara. Irdra, (Lingoa Geral). Teeth, I. -J C. \ \ M 


This is a curious animal, somewhat allied to the bears. It 
lives in trees, and eats honey, whence probably its Indian name, 
from Ira, in the Lingoa Geral, " honey.'' 


Vulpcs ? A wild dog, or fox, of the forests ; it hunts in 

small packs ; it is easily domesticated, but is very scarce. 

Leopardus cor.color. The Puma. In the Lingoa Geral, 
Sasurana, " the false deer," from its colour. 

L. o?i<;a. The Jaguar. Jauarite, (Lingoa Geral). "The 
Great Dog." 

L. on$a, var. nigra. The Black Jaguar. Jauarite pixuna, 
(Lingoa Geral). Tigre (Spaniards). 

L.pictus and L.griseus. Tiger Cats. Maracajd, (Lingoa Geral). 

The Jaguar, or 0119a, appears to approach very nearly in 
fierceness and strength to the tiger of India. Many persons 
are annually killed or wounded by these animals. When they 
can obtain other food they will seldom attack man. The 
Indians, however, assert that they often face a man boldly, 
springing forward till within a few feet of him, and then, if the 
man turns, they will attack him; the hunters will sometimes 
meet them thus face to face, and kill them with a cutlass. 
They also destroy them with the bow and arrow, for which 
purpose an old knife-blade is used for the head of the arrow ; 
and they say it is necessary not to pull too strong a bow, or 
the arrow will pass completely through the body of the animal, 
and not do him so much injury as if it remains in the wound. 
For the same reason, in shooting with a gun, they use rough 
leaden cylinders instead of bullets, which make a larger and 
rougher wound, and do not pass so readily quite through the 
body. I heard of one case, of a jaguar entering an Indian's 
house, and attacking him in his hammock. 

The jaguar, say the Indians, is the most cunning animal in 
the forest : he can imitate the voice of almost every bird and 
animal so exactly, as to draw them towards him : he fishes in 
the rivers, lashing the water with his tail to imitate falling fruit, 
and when the fish approach, hooks them up with his claws. 
He catches and eats turtles, and I have myself found the 
unbroken shells, which he has cleaned completely out with 
his paws ; he even attacks the cow-fish in its own element, and 
an eye-witness assured me he had watched one dragging out 
of the water this bulky animal, weighing as much as a large ox. 

A young Portuguese trader told me he had seen (what many 
persons had before assured me often happened) an onca 
feeding on a full-grown live alligator, tearing and eating its 
tail. On leaving off, and retiring a yard or two, the alligator 


would begin to move towards the water, when the onga would 
spring upon it, and again commence eating at the tail, during 
which time the alligator lay perfectly still. We had been 
observing a cat playing with a lizard, both behaving in exactly 
the same manner, the lizard only attempting to move when 
the cat for a moment left it ; the cat would then immediately 
spring upon it again : and my informant assured me that he 
had seen the jaguar treating the alligator in exactly the same 

The onga is particularly fond of dogs, and will carry them 
off in preference to any other animal. When one has been 
committing any depredations, it is a common thing to tie a 
dog to a tree at night, the howling of which attracts the onca, 
which comes to seize it, and is then shot by a person concealed 
for the purpose. 

It is a general belief among the Indians and the white 
inhabitants of Brazil, that the onga has the power of fascination. 
Many accounts are given to prove this ; among others, a 
person informed me, that he had seen an onga standing at the 
foot of a high tree, looking up into it : on the top was a 
guariba, or howling-monkey, looking down at the onga, and 
jumping about from side to side, crying piteously; the onga 
stood still ; the monkey continued descending lower and lower 
on the branches, still uttering its cries, till at length it fell 
down at the very feet of the onga, which seized and devoured 
it. Many incidents of this kind are related by persons who 
have witnessed them ; but whether they are exaggerated, or 
are altogether imaginary, it is difficult to decide. The belief 
in them, by persons best acquainted with the habits of the 
animal, is universal. 

Of the smaller Tiger-cats, there are several kinds, but having 
lost my collection of skins, I cannot ascertain the species. 
The Puma is considered much less fierce than the jaguar, and 
is very little feared by the inhabitants. There are several 
varieties of the jaguar, distinguished by the Indians by different 
names. The black variety is rarer than the others, and is 
generally thought to be quite distinct ; in some localities it is 
unknown, while in others it is as abundant as the ocellated 

Many small rodent animals squirrels, rats, etc. complete 
the terrestrial mammalia of the Amazon district. 


The waters 01 the Amazon, up even to the base of the 
Andes, are inhabited by several species of true Cetacca, of 
which, however, we have as yet but very scanty information. 

Two, if not more, species of Dolphins are common in every 
part of the Amazon, and in almost all of its tributaries. They 
are found above the falls of the Rio Negro, and in the Cassi- 
quiare and Upper Orinooko. They vary in size and colour, 
and two of them have distinct Indian names. Piraiowara 
(Fish-dog), and Tucuxf. 

D'Orbigny mentions their being killed by the inhabitants of 
Bolivia to make oil. In the Lower Amazon and Rio Negro 
they are scarcely ever caught, and I was unable to obtain a 
specimen. The species described by D'Orbigny is probably 
distinct, as he mentions their being twenty feet long, whereas 
none I have seen could have exceeded six or seven. 

Herbivorous Cetacea are also found in the Amazon ; they 
are called by the Brazilians, Peixe boi, or cow-fish, and by the 
Indians, Juaroua. 

It has not yet been ascertained, whether the cow-fish of the 
Amazon is the same as the Manatus of the West Indies and 
the coasts of Guiana, or a distinct species. All the accounts 
of the Manatus Americanus mention it as being twelve or 
fifteen feet long on the average, and sometimes reaching 
twenty. Those of the Amazon appear to average seven or 
eight feet only ; of five or six specimens I have myself seen, 
none have exceeded this ; Lieutenant Smyth saw one on the 
Upper Uaycali, of the same size; and Condamine describes 
the one he saw as not being larger. 

The inhabitants of the Amazon give accounts of three 
kinds, which they seem to consider distinct, one smaller, and 
one larger than the common kind, and differing also in the 
shape of the tail and fins, and in the colour. 

The West Indian species is always described as having 
external nails on the edge of the fin, or fore-arm. This I 
never observed in the Amazon species ; though in cutting the 
edge of the fin to take out the bones entire, I must have 
noticed them, had they been as prominent as they are usually 
described; neither does Lieutenant Smyth mention them, 
though he could hardly have overlooked so singular an 
external character. 

I am therefore inclined to think that the Amazon possesses 


one or two distinct species. Having carefully prepared a skin 
and skeleton of a fine male (which, with the rest of my 
collections, was lost on the voyage home), I did not describe 
it so minutely as I otherwise should have done, but have some 
notes, referring to male and female specimens, which I will 
now give : 

Manatus of the Amazon. 
Peixe boi, of the Portuguese. 
Vaca marina, of the Spaniards. 
Juaroua, of the Indians' Lingoa Gcral. 

The mammae of the female are two, one close to the base of 
each fin behind. The muzzle is blunt, fleshy, and covered 
with numerous stiff bristles ; the nostrils are on the upper part 
of it, and lunate. The lips, thick, fleshy, and bristly, and the 
tongue rough. The skin is lead-colour, with a few pinkish- 
white marblings on the belly ; others have the whole of the 
neck and fore-part of the body beneath cream-colour, and 
another spot of the same colour on the underside of the tail. 
The skin is entirely smooth, resembling india-rubber in 
appearance, and there are short hairs scattered over it, about 
an inch apart ; it is an inch thick on the back, and a quarter 
of an inch on the belly ; beneath it, is a layer of fat, of an 
inch or more in thickness, enveloping every part of the body, 
and furnishing from five to ten gallons of oil. 

The total length of full-grown animals is seven feet._ The 
intestines are very voluminous. The lungs are two feet long, 
and six or seven inches wide, very cellular, and when blown 
up, much resemble a Macintosh air-belt. The ribs are each 
nearly semicircular, arching back from the spine, so as to form 
a ridge or keel inside, and on the back there is a great depth 
of flesh. The bone is excessively hard and heavy, and can 
scarcely be broken. The dung resembles that of a horse. 

The cow-fish feeds on grass on the margins of the rivers and 
lakes. It is captured either with the harpoon, or with strong 
nets, placed at the mouth of some lake, whence it comes at 
nicrht to feed. 

Though it has very small eyes, and minute pores for ears, 
its senses are very acute ; and the fishermen say there is no 
animal can hear, see, and smell better, or which requires 
greater skill and caution to capture. When caught, it is killed 


by driving a wooden plug up its nostrils. The Indian fills his 
canoe full of water, and sinks it beneath the body ; he then 
bales out the water, and paddles home with a load which 
requires a dozen men to move on shore. The meat is very 
good, and both for it and for the oil the animal is much sought 
after. It ascends most of the tributaries of the Amazon, but 
does not pass the falls or rapids. 

B. Birds. 

The birds of the Amazon district are so numerous and 
striking, that it is impossible here to do more than mention a 
few of the most interesting and beautiful, so as to give some 
general idea of the ornithology of the district. 

Among the birds of prey, the most conspicuous are the 
King Vulture (Sarcorhamphns papa), and the Harpy Eagle 
(Thrasa'etos harpyia), both of which are found in the whole 
district of the lower Amazon. There is also a great variety of 
eagles, hawks, kites, and owls, and probably between twenty 
and thirty species may be obtained in the country around 

Those two fine eagles, the Spizaetus omatus and the 
Morphmis Gm'anensis, inhabit the Upper Amazon. 

Among the smaller perching-birds, the yellow-breasted tyrant 
shrikes immediately attract attention, perched upon dead trees 
in the open grounds. In the forests the curious notes of the 
bush-shrikes (T/iamnop/ii/ince) are often heard, and the ever- 
recurring vociferous cries of the great grey tyrant-flycatcher 
{Lipaugus simplex). 

Several pretty little tanagers are found about Para" ; but the 
exquisite little seven-coloured tanager {Calospiza tatao), and 
the scarcely less beautiful scarlet and black one (Rhamphocelis 
m'grogularis,) do not occur till we reach the Rio Negro and 
the Upper Amazon. 

The Chatterers form one of the most splendid families of 
birds, and we have on the Amazon some of the finest species, 
such as the Cotinga cayana, C. cozrulea, Phoenicurus camifex, 
and P. ?)iilitaris, which are found at Para, and the C. Pompa- 
doura, and P. nigrogularis on the Upper Amazon and Rio 


The hang-nest Orioles, species of Cassicus, are numerous, 
and by their brilliant plumage of yellow or red and black, and 
their curious pendulous ne'sts, give a character to the ornitho- 
logy of the country. 

Woodpeckers, kingfishers, and splendid metallic jacamars 
and trogons, are numerous in species and individuals. But of 
all the families of birds that inhabit this country, the parrots 
and the toucans are perhaps the most characteristic; they 
abound in species and individuals, and are much more fre- 
quently seen than any other birds. 

From Para to the Rio Negro I met with sixteen species 
of toucans, the most curious and beautiful of which is the 
Pteroglossus Beauharnasii, or "curl-crested Aragari," whose 
glossy crest of horny black curls is unique among birds. 

Of parrots and paroquets I found at least thirty distinct 
species, varying in size from the little Psittacidus fiasserhius, 
scarcely larger than a sparrow, to the magnificent crimson 
macaws. In ascending the Amazon, large flocks of parrots 
are seen, every morning and evening, crossing the river to 
their feeding- or resting-places ; and however many there may 
be, they constantly fly in pairs, as do also the macaws, while 
the noisy little paroquets associate indiscriminately in flocks, 
and fly from tree to tree with a rapidity which few birds can 

Though humming-birds are almost entirely confined to 
tropical America, they appear to abound most in the hilly and 
mountainous districts, and those of the level forests of the 
Amazon are comparatively few and inconspicuous. The whole 
number of species I met with in the Lower Amazon and Rio 
Negro, does not exceed twenty, and few of them are very hand- 
some. The beautiful little Lophomis Gouldi, found rarely at 
Para, and the magnificent Topazapyra, which is not uncommon 
on the Upper Rio Negro, are, however, exceptions, and will 
bear comparison with any species in this wonderful family. 

Probably no country in the world contains a greater variety 
of birds than the Amazon valley. Though I did not collect 
them very assiduously, I obtained upwards of five hundred 
species, a greater number than can be found all over Europe ; 
and I have little hesitation in saying that any one collecting 
industriously for five or six years might obtain near a thousand 
different kinds. 



C. Reptiles and Fishes. 

Like all tropical countries the Amazon district abounds in 
reptiles, and contains many of the largest size and most singular 
structure. The lizards and serpents are particularly abundant, 
and among the latter are several very venomous species ; but 
the most remarkable are the boa and the anaconda, which 
reach an enormous size. The former inhabits the land, and 
though it is often found very large, yet the most authentic and 
trustworthy accounts of monstrous serpents refer to the latter, 
the Eunectes murinus of naturalists, which lives in or near 
the water. The Indians are aware of the generic distinction 
of these creatures, for while they call the former "Jiboa," the 
latter is the " Sucurujii." 

The largest specimens I met with myself were not more than 
from fifteen to twenty feet long, but I have had several accounts 
of their having been killed, and measured, of a length of thirty- 
two feet. They have been seen very much larger, but, as may 
be supposed, are then very difficult to kill or secure, owing to 
their tenacity of life and their acquatic habits. It is an undis- 
puted fact that they devour cattle and horses, and the general 
belief in the country is that they are sometimes from sixty to 
eighty feet long.* 

Alligators of three or four distinct species abound in the 
Amazon, and in all its tributary streams. The smaller ones 
are eaten by the natives, the larger often devour them in 
return. In almost every village some persons may be seen 
maimed by these creatures, and many children are killed every 
year. The eggs of all the different kinds are eaten, though 
they have a very strong musky odour. The largest species 

* As so few Europeans have seen these large serpents, and the very 
existence of any large enough to swallow a horse or ox is hardly credited, 
I append the following account by a competent scientific observer, the 
well-known botanical traveller Dr. Gardner. In his " Travels in Brazil," 
p. 356, he says : 

" In the marshes of this valley in the province of Goyaz, near Arrayas, 
the Boa Constrictor is often met with of considerable size ; it is not un- 
common throughout the whole province, particularly by the wooded 
margins of lakes, marshes, and streams. Sometimes they attain the 
enormous length of forty feet : the largest I ever saw was at this place, 
but it was not alive. Some weeks before our arrival at Safe, the favourite 
riding horse of Senhor Lagoriva, which had been put out to pasture not far 


{Jacare nigra) reaches a length of fifteen, or rarely of twenty 

The most interesting and useful reptiles of the Amazon are, 
however, the various species of fresh-water turtles, which supply 
an abundance of wholesome food, and from whose eggs an 
excellent oil is made. The largest and most abundant of these 
is the Tataruga, or great turtle of the Amazon, the Jurara of 
the Indians. It grows to the length of three feet, and has an 
oval flattish shell of a dark colour and quite smooth ; it abounds 
in all parts of the Amazon, and in most places is the common 
food of the inhabitants. 

In the month of September, as soon as the sandbanks 
begin to be uncovered, the females deposit their eggs, scraping 
hollows of a considerable depth, covering them over carefully, 
smoothing and beating down the sand, and then walking across 
and across the place in various directions for the purpose of 
concealment. There are such numbers of them, that some 
beaches are almost one mass of eggs beneath the surface, and 
here the Indians come to make oil. A canoe is filled with the 
eggs, which are all broken and mashed up together. The oil 
rises to the top, and is skimmed off and boiled, when it will 
keep, and is used both for light and for cooking. Millions of 
eggs are thus annually destroyed, and the turtles have already 
become scarce in consequence. There are some extensive 
beaches which yield two thousand pots of oil annually ; each 
pot contains five gallons, and requires about two thousand five 
hundred eggs, which would give five millions of eggs destroyed 
in one locality. 

But of those that remain, a very small portion are able 
to reach maturity. When the young turtles issue from the egg, 
and run to the water, many enemies are awaiting them. Great 

from the house, could not be found, although strict search was made for it 
all over the Fazenda. Shortly after this, one of his vaqueiros, in going 
through a wood by the side of a small river, saw an enormous Boa 
suspended in the fork of a tree which hung over the water; it was dead, 
but had evidently been floated down alive by a recent flood, and being in 
an inert state it had not been able to extricate itself from the fork before 
the waters fell. It was dragged out to the open country by two horses, 
and was found to measure thirty-seven feet in length ; on opening it the 
bones of a horse in a somewhat broken condition, and the flesh in a half- 
digested state, were found within it, the bones of the head being uninjured ; 
from these circumstances we concluded that the Boa had devoured the 
horse entire," 


alligators open their jaws and swallow them by hundreds ; the 
jaguars from the forest come and feed upon them ; eagles and 
buzzards, and the great wood ibises attend the feast ; and 
when they have escaped all these, there are many ravenous 
fishes which seize them in the stream. 

The Indians catch the full-grown turtles, either with the 
hook, net, or arrow. The last is the most ingenious method, 
and requires the most skill. The turtle never shows its back 
above water, only rising to breathe, which it does by protruding 
its nostrils almost imperceptibly above the surface ; the Indian's 
keen eyes perceive this, even at a considerable distance ; but 
an arrow shot obliquely would glance off the smooth flat shell, 
so he shoots up into the air with such accurate judgment, that 
the arrow falls nearly vertically upon the shell, which it pene- 
trates, and remains securely fixed in the turtle's back. The 
head of the arrow fits loosely on to the shaft, and is connected 
with it by a long fine cord, carefully wound round it ; as the 
turtle dives, they separate, the light shaft forming a float or 
buoy, which the Indian secures, and by the attached cord 
draws the prize up into his canoe. In this manner almost all 
the turtles sold in the cities have been procured, and the little 
square vertical hole of the arrow-head may generally be seen in 
the shell. 

Besides the great tataruga {Podocnemis expansa), there are 
several smaller kinds, also much used for food. The Tracaxa 
(E??iys tracaxa, Spix) and the Cabecudo {E. macrocefihala, 
Spix) have been described by the French naturalists, Dumeril 
and Bibron, as one species, under the name of Peltocephalus 
tracaxa ; but they are quite distinct, and though their characters 
are perhaps not easy to define, they could never be confounded 
by any one who had examined them in the living state. They 
are found too in different localities. The tracaxa is abundant 
in the Amazon, in the Orinooko, and in the Guaviare, all white- 
water rivers, and very scarce in the Rio Negro. The cabegudo 
is very abundant in the Rio Negro and in the Atabapo, but is 
not found in the Guaviare or the Amazon, appearing to be 
confined to the black-water streams. I obtained ten distinct 
kinds of river tortoises, or Chelydidce, and there are also two or 
three kinds of land-tortoises inhabiting the adjacent district. 

As might be expected in the greatest river in the world, 
there is a corresponding abundance and variety of fish. They 


supply the Indians with the greater part of their animal food, 
and are at all times more plentiful, and easier to be obtained, 
than birds or game from the forest. 

During my residence on the Rio Negro I carefully figured 
and described every species I met with ; and at the time I left 
fresh ones were every day occurring. The soft-finned fishes 
are much the most numerous, and comprise some of the best 
kinds of food. Of the Silnridce. I obtained fifty-one species, of 
Serrasalmo twenty-four, of Chalceus twenty-six, of Gymnotus 
ten, and of spinous-finned fishes (Acanthopterygia) forty-two. 
Of all kinds of fishes I found two hundred and five species in 
the Rio Negro alone, and these, I am sure, are but a small 
portion of what exist there. Being a black-water river, most 
of its fishes are different from those found in the Amazon. In 
fact, in every small river, and in different parts of the same 
river, distinct kinds are found. The greater part of those 
which inhabit the Upper Rio Negro are not found near its 
mouth, where there are many other kinds equally unknown in 
the clearer, darker, and probably colder waters of its higher 
branches. From the number of new fishes constantly found 
in every fresh locality and in every fisherman's basket, we may 
estimate that at least five hundred species exist in the Rio 
Negro and its tributary streams. The number in the whole 
valley of the Amazon it is impossible to estimate with any 
approach to accuracy. 

D. Insects. 

To describe the countless tribes of insects that swarm in the 
dense forests of the Amazon would require volumes. In no 
country in the world is there more variety and beauty ; nowhere 
are there species of larger size or of more brilliant colours. 
Here are found the extraordinary harlequin-beetle, the gigantic 
Prioni and Dynastes ; but these are exceptions to the great 
mass of the Cokoptera, which, though in immense variety, are 
of small size and of little brilliancy of colour, offering a great 
contrast to the generally large-sized and gorgeous species of 
tropical Africa, India, and Australia. In the other orders the 
same rule holds good, except in the Hymenoptcra, which con- 
tain many gigantic and handsome species. It is in the lovely 


butterflies that the Amazonian forests are unrivalled, whether 
we consider the endless variety of the species, their large size, 
or their gorgeous colours. South America is the richest part 
of the world in this group of insects, and the Amazon seems 
the richest part of South America. This continent is distin- 
guished from every other by having a most extensive and 
peculiar family, the HeliconiidcB, of which not a single species 
is found in either Europe, Asia, Africa, or even North America 
(excepting Mexico). Another family, still more extensive, of 
exquisitely beautiful small butterflies, the Erycinidtz, is also 
almost peculiar to it, a few species only being found in tropical 
Asia and Africa. In both these peculiar families the Amazon 
is particularly rich, so that we may consider it as the head- 
quarters of South America Lepidoptera. 

Para itself, for variety of species, is perhaps the best locality 
for diurnal Lepidoptera ; six hundred distinct kinds may be 
obtained within a day's walk of the city. At Santarem I had 
increased my collection to seven hundred species, at Barra to 
eight hundred, and I should have brought home with me nine 
hundred species had my collections arrived in safety. Mr. 
Bates, who has paid more exclusive attention to insects, states 
that he has now obtained twelve hundred species, a wonderful 
collection to be made by one person, in a country without any 
variation of climate or of physical features, and no part of it 
elevated five hundred feet above the level of the sea. 

E. Geographical Distribution of Animals. 

There is no part of natural history more interesting or 
instructive than the study of the geographical distribution of 

It is well known that countries possessing a climate and soil 
very similar, may differ almost entirely in their productions. 
Thus Europe and North America have scarcely an animal in 
common in the temperate zone ; and South America contrasts 
equally with the opposite coast of Africa ; while Australia 
differs almost entirely in its productions from districts under 
the same parallel of latitude in South Africa and South 
America. In all these cases there is a wide extent of sea 
separating the countries, which few animals can pass over; so 


that, supposing the animal productions to have been originally 
distinct, they could not well have become intermixed. 

In each of these countries we find well-marked smaller 
districts, appearing to depend upon climate. The tropical and 
temperate parts of America and Africa have, generally speaking, 
distinct animals in each of them. 

On a more minute acquaintance with the animals of any 
country, we shall find that they are broken up into yet smaller 
local groups, and that almost every district has peculiar animals 
found nowhere else. Great mountain-chains are found to 
separate countries possessing very distinct sets of animals. 
Those of the east and west of the Andes differ very remarkably. 
The Rocky Mountains also separate two distinct zoological 
districts ; California and Oregon on the one side, possessing 
plants, birds, and insects, not found in any part of North 
America east of that range. 

But there must be many other kinds of boundaries besides 
these, which, independently of climate, limit the range of 
animals. Places not more than fifty or a hundred miles apart 
often have species of insects and birds at the one, which are 
not found at the other. There must be some boundary which 
determines the range of each species ; some external peculiarity 
to mark the line which each one does not pass. 

These boundaries do not always form a barrier to the 
progress of the animal, for many birds have a limited range, 
in a country where there is nothing to prevent them flying in 
every direction, as in the case of the nightingale, which is 
quite unknown in some of our western counties. Rivers 
generally do not determine the distribution of species, because, 
when small, there are few animals which cannot pass them ; 
but in very large rivers the case is different, and they will, it is 
believed, be found to be the limits, determining the range of 
many animals of all orders. 

With regard to the Amazon, and its larger tributaries, I 
have ascertained this to be the case, and shall here mention 
the facts which tend to prove it. 

On the north side of the Amazon, and the east of the Rio 
Negro, are found the following three species of monkeys, 
Ateles flaniscus, Brachiarus satanas, and Jacchus bicolor. These 
are all found close up to the margins of the Rio Negro and 
Amazon, but never on the opposite banks of either river \ nor 


am I able to ascertain that either of them have ever been found 
in any other part of South America than Cayenne or Guiana, 
and the eastern part of Venezuela, a district which is bounded 
on the south and west by the Amazon and Rio Negro. 

The species of Pithecia, No. 14 of my list, is found on the 
west side of the Rio Negro for several hundred miles, from its 
mouth up to the river Curicuriari, but never on the east side, 
neither is it known on the south side of the Upper Amazon, 
where it is replaced by an allied species, the P. irrorata (P. 
hirsute Spix), which, though abundant there, is never found 
on the north bank. These facts are, I think, sufficient to 
prove that these rivers do accurately limit the range of some 
species, and in the cases just mentioned, the evidence is the 
more satisfactory, because monkeys are animals so well known 
to the native hunters, they are so much sought after for food, 
and all their haunts are so thoroughly searched, and the 
localities for the separate kinds are so often the subject of 
communication from one hunter to another, that it is quite 
impossible that any well-known species can exist in a particular 
district, unknown to men whose lives are occupied in forming 
an acquaintance with the various tenants of the forests. 

On the south side of the Lower Amazon, in' the neighbour- 
hood of Para, are found two monkeys, Mycetes beelzebub and 
Jacchus tamartn, which do not pass the river to the north. I 
have never heard of monkeys swimming over any river, so that 
this kind of boundary might be expected to be more definite 
in their case than in that of other quadrupeds, most of which 
readily take to the water. 

Towards their sources, rivers do not form a boundary 
between distinct species ; but those found there, though rang- 
ing on both sides of the stream, do not often extend down to 
the mouth. 

Thus on the Upper Rio Negro and its branches are found 
the Callithrix torquatus, Nyctipithecus trivirgatus, and Jacchus 
(No. 21), none of which inhabit the Lower Rio Negro or 
Amazon ; they are probably confined to the granitic districts 
which extend from Guiana across the sources of the Rio 
Negro towards the Andes. 

Among birds it cannot be expected that we should find 
many proofs of rivers limiting their range ; but there is one 
very remarkable instance of a genus, the three known species 


of which are separated by rivers, namely, the three species of 
genus Psophia, P. crepitans (Linn.), P. viridis (Spix), and P. 
leucoptera (Spix). The P. crepitans is the common trumpeter 
of Guiana; it extends into the interior all over the country, 
beyond the sources of the Rio Negro and Orinooko, towards 
the Andes, and down to the Amazon, both east and west of 
the Rio Negro, but is never found on the south side of the 

The P. viridis is found in the forests of Para, at Villa Nova, 
on the south bank of the Amazon, and up to the Madeira, 
where it is found at Borba, on the east bank. 

The P. leucoptera, a most beautiful white-backed species, 
is found also on the south bank of the Amazon, at Sao Paulo, 
at Ega, at Coarf, and opposite the mouth of the Rio Negro, 
but not east of the Madeira, where the green-backed species 
commences. These birds are all great favourites in the 
houses of the Brazilians, and all three may sometimes be seen 
domesticated at Barra, where they are brought by the traders 
from the different districts in which they are found. They are 
inhabitants of the dense forests, and scarcely ever fly ; so that 
we see the reason why the rivers should so sharply divide the 
species, which, spreading towards each other from different 
directions, might otherwise become intermingled. It is not 
improbable that, if the two Brazilian species extend as far as 
the sources of the Madeira, they may be found inhabiting the 
same district. 

Of the smaller perching-birds and insects, which doubtless 
would have afforded many interesting facts corroborative of 
those already mentioned, I have nothing to say, as my exten- 
sive collection of specimens from the Rio Negro and Upper 
Amazon, all ticketed for my own use, have been lost ; and of 
course in such a question as this, the exact determination 
of species is everything. 

The two beautiful butterflies, Callithea sapphira and C. 
Leprieuri, which were originally found, the former in Brazil, 
and the latter in Guiana, have been taken by myself on the 
opposite banks of the Amazon, within a few miles of each 
other, but neither of them on both sides of that river. 

Mr. Bates has since discovered another species, named after 
himself, on the south side of the Amazon ; and a fourth, 
distinct from either of them, was found by me high up in one 


of the north-western tributaries of the Rio Negro, so that it 
seems probable that distinct species of this genus inhabit the 
opposite shores of the Amazon. 

The cock of the rock, Rupicola crocea, is, on the other hand, 
an example of a bird having its range defined by a geological 
formation, and by the physical character of the country. Its 
range extends in a curving line along the centre of the moun- 
tainous district of Guiana, across the sources of the Rio Negro 
and Orinooko, towards the Andes ; it is thus entirely com- 
prised in the granite formation, and in that part of it where 
there are numerous peaks and rocks, in which the birds make 
their nests. 

Whether it actually reaches the Andes, or occurs in the 
same district with the allied R. Peruviana, is not known, but 
personal information obtained in the districts it inhabits, 
shows that it is confined to the narrow tract I have mentioned, 
between i south and 6 north latitude, and from the mountains 
of Cayenne to the Andes, south of Bogota. 

Another bird appears bounded by a geological formation. 
The common red-backed parrot, Psittacus festivus, is found 
all over the Lower Amazon, but, on ascending the Rio Negro, 
has its northern limit about St. Isabel, or just where the 
alluvial country ends and the granite commences ; it also 
extends up the Japura, but does not pass over to the Uaupes, 
which is all in the granite district. 

The fine blue macaw (Ara hyacinihina) inhabits the borders 
of the hilly country south of the Amazon, from the sea-coast 
probably up to the Madeira. Below Santarem, it is sometimes 
found close up to the banks of the Amazon, but is said never 
to cross that river. Its head-quarters are the upper waters of 
the Tocantins, Xingu, and Tapajoz rivers. 

As another instance of a bird not crossing the Amazon, I 
may mention the beautiful curl-crested Aragari (Pteroglossus 
Beauharnaisii), which is found on the south side of the 
Upper Amazon, opposite the Rio Negro, and at Coari and 
Ega, but has never been seen on the north side. The green 
Jacamar of Guiana also (Galbula viridis) occurs all along the 
north bank of the Amazon, but is not found on the south, 
where it is replaced by the G. cyanocollis and G. maculicauda i 
both of which' occur in the neighbourhood of Para. 



Comparing the accounts given by other travellers with my 
own obervations, the Indians of the Amazon valley appear to 
be much superior, both physically and intellectually, to those 
of South Brazil and of most other parts of South America ; 
they more closely resemble the intelligent and noble races 
inhabiting the western prairies of North America. This view 
is confirmed by Prince Adalbert of Prussia, who first saw the 
uncivilised Indians of South Brazil, and afterwards those of 
the Amazon ; and records his surprise and admiration at the 
vast superiority of the latter in strength and beauty of body, 
and in gentleness of disposition. 

I have myself had opportunities of observing the Aborigines 
of the interior, in places where they retain all their native 
customs and peculiarities. These truly uncivilised Indians are 
seen by few travellers, and can only be found by going far 
beyond the dwellings of white men, and out of the ordinary 
track of trade. In the neighbourhood of civilisation the 
Indian loses many of his peculiar customs, changes his mode 
of life, his house, his costume, and his language, becomes 
imbued with the prejudices of civilisation, and adopts the 
forms and ceremonies of the Roman Catholic religion. In 
this state he is a different being from the true denizen of 
the forests, and it may be doubted, where his civilisation goes 
no further than this, if he is not a degenerate and degraded 
one ; but it is in this state alone that he is met with by most 
travellers in Brazil, on the banks of the Amazon, in Venezuela, 
and in Peru. 

I do not remember a single circumstance in my -travels so 
striking and new, or that so well fulfilled all previous expec- 


tations, as my first view of the real uncivilised inhabitants of 
the river Uaupes. Though I had been already three years in 
the country, and had seen Indians of almost every shade of 
colour and every degree of civilisation, I felt that I was as 
much in the midst of something new and startling, as if I had 
been instantaneously transported to a distant and unknown 

The Indians of the Amazon and its tributaries are of a 
countless variety of tribes and nations ; all of whom have 
peculiar languages and customs, and many of them some dis- 
tinct physical characteristics. Those now found in the city of 
Para, and all about the country of the Lower Amazon, have 
long been civilised, have lost their own language, and speak 
the Portuguese, and are known by the general name of 
Tapiiyas, which is applied to all Indians, and seems to be a 
corruption of " Tupis," the name applied to the natives of the 
coast-districts, on the first settlement of the country. These 
Indians are short, stout, and well made. They learn all trades 
quickly and well, and are a quiet, good-natured, inoffensive 
people. They form the crews of most of the Para trading 
canoes. Their main peculiarity consists in their short stature, 
which is more observable than in any other tribe I am acquainted 
with. It may be as well, before proceeding further, to mention 
the general characteristics of the Amazon Indians, from which 
the particular tribes vary but very slightly. 

They are, a skin of a coppery or brown colour of various 
shades, often nearly the tint of smooth Honduras mahogany, 
jet-black straight hair, thick, and never curled, black eyes, 
and very little or no beard. With regard to their features, it 
is impossible to give any general characteristics. In some the 
whole face is wide and rather flattened, but I never could dis- 
cern an unusual obliquity of the eyes, or projection of the 
cheek-bones ; in many, of both sexes, the most perfect regu- 
larity of features exists, and there are numbers who in colour 
alone differ from a good-looking European. 

Their figures are generally superb ; and I have never felt so 
much pleasure in gazing at the finest statue, as at these living 
illustrations of the beauty of the human form. The develop- 
ment of the chest is such as I believe never exists in the 
best-formed European, exhibiting a splendid series of convex 
undulations, without a hollow in any part of it. 


Some native tribes exist in the rivers Guama, Capi'm, and 
Acarra, just above the city of Para, but I could learn little 
definite about them. High up the rivers Tocantins and 
Araguaya, there are numerous tribes of tall well-formed Indians, 
some of whom I have seen in Para, where they arrive in 
canoes from the interior. Most of them have enormously 
elongated ears hanging down on their shoulders, produced 
probably by weights suspended from the lobe in youth. On 
the Xingii are many native tribes, some of whom were visited 
by Prince Adalbert. On the next river, the Tapaj 6z, dwell 
the Mundrucus, and they extend far into the interior, across to 
the Madeira and to the river Purus ; they are a very numerous 
tribe, and portions of them are now civilised. The Maras, 
another of the populous tribes, are also partly civilised, about 
the mouths of the Madeira and Rio Negro ; but in the interior, 
and up the river Puriis, many yet live in a totally wild and 
savage state. 

All along the banks of the main streams of the Amazon, 
Solimoes, Madeira, and Rio Negro, live Indians of various 
races, in a semi-civilised state, and with their peculiar habits 
and languages in a great measure lost. Traces of these pecu- 
liarities are, however, still to be found, in the painted pottery 
manufactured at Breves, the elegant calabashes of Montealegre, 
the curious baskets of some tribes on the Rio Negro, and the 
calabashes of Ega, always painted in geometrical patterns. 

Commencing near Santarem, and extending among all the 
half-civilised Indians of the Amazon, Rio Negro, and other 
rivers, the Lingoa Geral, or general Indian language, is spoken. 
Near the more populous towns and villages, it is used indis- 
criminately with the Portuguese ; a little further, it is often the 
only language known ; and far up in the interior it exists in 
common with the native language of the tribe to which the in- 
habitants belong. Thus on the Lower Amazon, all the Indians 
can speak both Portuguese and Lingoa Geral ; on the Solimoes 
and Rio Negro, Lingoa Geral alone is generally spoken ; and 
in the interior, on the lakes and tributaries of the Solimoes, 
the Miira and Juri tongues are in common use, with the Lingoa 
Geral as a means of communication with the traders. Near 
the sources of the Rio Negro, in Venezuela, the Barre* and 
Baniwa languages are those used among the Indians them- 


The Lingoa Geral is the Tupi, an Indian language found in 
the country by the Jesuits, and modified and extended by them 
for use among all the tribes included in their missions. It is 
now spread over all the interior of Brazil, and even extends 
into Peru and Venezuela, as well as Bolivia and Paraguay, and 
is the general vehicle of communication between the Brazilian 
traders and the Indians. It is a simple and euphonious 
language, and is often preferred by Europeans who get 
thoroughly used to it. I knew a Frenchman who had been 
twenty years in the Solimoes, who always conversed with his 
wife and children in Lingoa Geral, and could speak it with 
more ease than either French or Portuguese; and, in many 
cases, I have seen Portuguese settlers whose children were 
unable to speak any other language. 

I shall now proceed to give some account of the various 
tribes that still exist, in all their native integrity, among the 
trackless forests of the Puriis, Rio Branco, Japura, and the 
rivers Uaupes and Isanna, near the sources of the Rio Negro. 

As I am best acquainted with the Indians of the river 
Uaupes, I shall first state all I know of them, and then point 
out the particulars in which other nations differ from them. 
The tribes which inhabit the Uaupes, as far as any of the 
traders ascend, and of which I can get any information, are 
the following : 

Up the main strea??i. 

1. Queianas, at Sao Joaquim. 

2. Tarianas, about Sao Jeronymo. 

3. Ananas (Pine-apples), below Jauarite. 

4. Cobeus, about Caruni caxoeira. 

5. Piraiuru (Fish's mouth). 

6. Pisa (Net). 

7. Carapana (Mosquito), Jurupuri caxoeira. 

8. Tapiira (Tapir). 

9. Uaracii (a Fish), above Jukeira Parana. 

10. Cohidias. 

11. Tucundera (an Ant). 

12. Jacami (Trumpeter). 

13. Miriti (Mauritia Palm), Baccate Parana. 

14. Omauas. 


On the river Tiquie, 

15. Macunas. 

16. Taiassu (Pig Indians). 

17. Tijiico (Mud Indians). 

On Japob Par and. 

18. Arapdsso (Woodpeckers). 

On the river Apafioris. 

19. Tuca*rios (Toucans). 

20. Uacarras (Herons). 


rira (risn;. 



On the river Quiriri. 



Ipecas (Ducks). 
Gi (Axe). 
Coua (Wasp). 

On the river Codaiarl. 


Cordcoro (Green Ibis). 


Tatiis (Armadillos). 

On Cant si Parana. 

29. Tenimbuca (Ashes). 

Jukeira Parana). 

30. Muciira (Opossum). 

These tribes have almost all of them some peculiarities of 
language and customs, but they all go under the general name 
of " Uaupes," and distinguish themselves, as a body, from the 
inhabitants of other rivers. Hence the river is called " Rio 
dos Uaupes " (the River of the Uaupes), though the proper 
name of it is " Uacaiari,'' and it is always so termed by the 

The Uaupe"s are generally rather tall, five feet nine or ten 
inches being not an uncommon height, and they are very 
stout and well formed. Their hair is jet-black and straight, 



only turning grey with extreme old age. The men do not cut 
their hair, but gather it behind into a long tail, bound round 
with cord, and hanging down to the middle of the back, and 
often to the thighs ; the hair of the women hangs loose 
down their backs, and is cut to a moderate length. The men 
have very little beard, and that little they eradicate by pulling 
it out ; men and women also eradicate the hair of the eyebrows, 
the arm-pits, and the private parts. The colour of the skin is 
a light, uniform, glossy reddish-brown. 

They are an agricultural people, having a permanent abode, 
and cultivating mandiocca (Jatropha Manihot), sugar-cane 
{Sacckarum ojjlclfiaruni), sweet potatoes {Convolvulus Batatas), 
carra, or yam (Dioscorea sp.), pupunha palms (Guilielma 
speciosa), cocura (a fruit like grapes), pine-apples (Ananassa 
saliva), maize ( Zea Mays), urucii or arnotto (Bixa Orellana), 
plantains and bananas (Afusa sp.), abios (Zucuma Calmlto), 
cashews (Anacardlum occidentale), ingas (ingd sp.), peppers 
(Capsicum sp.), tobacco (Nicollana Tabacum), and plants for 
dyes and cordage. All, even in the most remote districts, have 
now iron axes and knives, though the stone axes which they 
formerly used are still to be found among them. The men 
cut down the trees and brushwood, which, after they have lain 
some months to dry, are burnt ; and the mandiocca is then 
planted by the women, together with little patches of cane, 
sweet potatoes, and various fruits. The women also dig up 
the mandiocca, and prepare from it the bread which is their 
main subsistence. The roots are brought home from the field 
in large baskets called aturas, made of a climber, and only 
manufactured by these tribes; they are then washed and 
peeled, this last operation being generally performed with the 
teeth, after which they are grated on large wooden graters 
about three feet long and a foot wide, rather concave, and 
covered all over with small sharp pieces of quartz, inserted in 
a regular diagonal pattern. These graters are an article of 
trade in all the Upper Amazon, as they are cheaper than the 
copper graters used in other parts of Brazil. The pulp is 
placed to drain on a large sieve made of the bark of a water- 
plant. It is then put into a long elastic cylinder made of the 
outer rind, or bark, of a climbing palm, a species of Desmoncus : 
this is filled with the half-dry pulp, and, being hung on a cross- 
beam between two posts, is stretched by a lever, on the further 


end of which the woman sits, and thus presses out the remaining 
liquid. These cylinders, called " tipitis," are also a considerable 
article of trade, and the Portuguese and Brazilians have not 
yet introduced any substitute for this rude Indian press. The 
pulp is then turned out, a dry compact mass, which is broken 
up, and the hard lumps and fibres picked out, w r hen it is at 
once roasted on large flat ovens from four to six feet in diameter, 
with a sloping rim about six inches high. These ovens are 
well made, of clay mixed with the ashes of the bark of a tree 
called " caripe," and are supported on walls of mud about two 
feet high,with a large opening on one side, in which to make 
a fire of logs of wood. The mandiocca cakes, or " beijii," 
thus prepared, are sweet and agreeable to the taste ; but the 
Indians generally first soak the roots some days in water, 
which softens and ferments them, and gives the bread a sour 
taste, much relished by the natives, but not generally so agreeable 
to Europeans. The bread is made fresh every day, as when it 
gets cold and dry it is far less palatable. The women thus 
have plenty to do, for every other day at least they have to go 
to the field, often a mile or two distant, to fetch the root, and 
every day to grate, prepare, and bake the bread ; as it forms 
by far the greater part of their food, and they often pass days 
without eating anything else, especially when the men are 
engaged in clearing the forest. For the greater part of the 
year, however, the men go daily to fish, and at these times they 
have a good supply of this their favourite food. Meat and 
game they only eat occasionally ; they prefer jabutis, or land- 
tortoises, monkeys, inambus (Tinamus sp.), toucans, and the 
smaller species of wild pig {Dicotyles torquatus). But they will 
not eat the large wild pig (D. labiatus), the anta (Tapirus 
Americanus), or the white-rumped mutun (Crax globiceraT). 
They consume great quantities of peppers (species of Capsicum), 
preferring the small red ones, which are of excessive pungency : 
when they have no fish, they boil several pounds of these 
peppers in a little water, and dip their bread into the fiery soup 
thus formed. 

The poisonous juice expressed from the mandiocca root, 
when fermented and boiled in various ways, forms sauces and 
peculiarly flavoured drinks, of w r hich they are very fond. In 
making their bread they have a peculiarity, not noticed among 
the neighbouring tribes, of extracting pure tapioca from the 



mandiocca, and, by mixing this with the ordinary pulp, forming 
a very superior cake. 

They use plantains extensively, eating them as a fruit, and 
making a mingau, or gruel, by boiling and beating them into a 
pulp, which is a very agreeable food. From the fruits of the 
Baccaba, Patawa, and Assai palms {(Efiocarpus Baccaba, (E. 
Batawa, Euterpe oleracea and allied species), they produce 
wholesome and nourishing drinks. 

Besides these they make much use of sweet potatoes, yams, 
roasted corn, and many forest fruits, from all of which, and 
from mandiocca cakes, they make fermented drinks, which go 
under the general name of " caxiri." That made from the 
mandiocca is the most agreeable, and much resembles good 
table-beer. At their feasts and dances they consume immense 
quantities of it, and it does not seem to produce any bad effects. 
They also use, on these occasions, an intensely exciting pre- 
paration of the root of a climber, it is called capi, and the 
manner of using it I have described in my Narrative 
(page 205). 

The weapons of these Indians are bows and arrows, 
gravatanas, lances, clubs, and also small hand-nets, and rods 
and lines, for catching fish. 

Their bows are of different kinds of hard elastic wood, well 
made, and from five to six feet long. The string is either of 
the "tucum" leaf fibre (Astrocaryum vulgare), or of the inner 
bark of trees called " tururi." The arrows are of various kinds, 
from five to seven feet long. The shaft is made of the flower- 
stalk of the arrow-grass (Gyneriu??i saccharinum). In the war- 
arrows, or " curubis," the head is made of hard wood, carefully 
pointed, and by some tribes armed with the serrated spine of 
the ray-fish : it is thickly anointed with poison, and notched in 
two or three places so as to break off in the wound. Arrows 
for shooting fish are now almost always made with iron heads, 
sold by the traders, but many still use heads made of monkeys' 
bones, with a barb, to retain a hold of the fish : the iron heads 
are bent at an angle, so that the lower part projects and forms 
a barb, and are securely fastened on with twine and pitch. 
Lighter,, arrows are made for shooting birds and other small 
game, and these alone are feathered at the base. The feathers 
generally used are from the wings of the macaw, and, in putting 
them on, the Indian shows his knowledge of the principle 


wnich is applied in the spirally-grooved rifle-barrel : three 
feathers are used, and they are all secured spirally, so as to 
form a little screw on the base of the arrow, the effect of which 
of course must be, that the arrow revolves rapidly in its 
onward progress, and this no doubt tends to keep it in a direct 

The gravatana and small poisoned arrows are made and used 
exactly as I have already described in my Narrative (page 147). 

The small hand-nets used for catching fish are of two kinds, 
a small ring-net, like a landing-net, and one spread between 
two slender sticks, just like the large folding-nets of entomo- 
logists : these are much used in the rapids, and among rocks 
and eddies, and numbers of fish are caught with them. They 
also use the rod and line, and consume an enormous quantity 
of hooks : there are probably not less than a hundred thousand 
fish-hooks sold every year in the river Uaupes ; yet there are 
still to be found among them many of their own hooks, in- 
geniously made of palm-spines. They have many other ways 
of catching fish : one is by a small cone of wicker, called a 
" matapi," which is placed in some little current in the gapo ; 
the larger end is entirely open, and it appears at first sight 
quite incapable of securing the fish, yet it catches great quantities, 
for when the fish get in they have no room to turn round, 
and cannot swim backwards, and three or four are often found 
jammed in the end of these little traps, with the scales and skin 
quite rubbed off their heads by their vain endeavours to pro- 
ceed onwards. Other matapis are larger and more cylindrical, 
with a reversed conical mouth (as in our wire rat-traps), to 
prevent the return of the fish : these are often made of a very 
large size, and are placed in little forest-streams, and in narrow 
channels between rocks, where the fish, in passing up, must 
enter them. But the best method of procuring fish, and that 
which has been generally adopted by the Europeans in the 
country, is with the Cacoaries, or fish-weirs. These are princi- 
pally used at high-water, when fish are scarce : they are formed 
at the margin of rivers, supported by strong posts, which are 
securely fixed at the time of low-water, when the place of the 
weir is quite dry ; to these posts is secured a high fence of split 
palm-stems, forming an entering angle, with a narrow opening 
into a fenced enclosure. Fish almost always travel against the 
stream, and generally abound more at the sides where the 


current is less rapid : they are guided by the side-wings of the 
weir into the narrow opening, from which they cannot find their 
way out. They are obtained by diving into the weir, and 
then catching them with the pisa (small net), or with the hand, 
or sticking them with a knife. In these cacoaries every kind 
of fish is caught, from the largest to the smallest, as well as 
river tortoises and turtles. The Indian generally feels about 
well with a rod before entering a cacoari, to ascertain if it con- 
tains an electrical eel, in which case he gets it out first with a 
net. The Piranhas, species of Serrasa/mo, are also rather 
dangerous, for I have seen an Indian boy return from the 
cacoary with his finger bitten off by one of them. 

The " Geraii," is yet on a larger scale than the Cacoarf. 
It is used only in the cataracts, and is very similar to the 
eel-traps used at mills and sluices in England. It is a large 
wooden sieve, supported in the midst of a cataract, so that the 
full force of the water dashes through it. All the fish which 
are carried down by the violence of the current are here 
caught, and their numbers are often so great as to supply a 
whole village with food. At many of the falls on the Uaupe's 
they make these geraus, which require the united exertions 
of the inhabitants to construct them ; huge timbers having 
to be planted in every crevice of the rocks, to withstand the 
strength of the torrent of water brought down by the winter's 

All the fish not used at the time are placed on a little 
platform of sticks over the fire, till they are so thoroughly 
dried and imbued with smoke, as to keep good any length 
of time. They are then used for voyages, and to sell to 
travellers, but, having no salt, are a very tasteless kind of 

Salt is not so much sought after by these Indians as by 
many other tribes; for they will generally prefer fish-hooks 
and beads in payment for any articles you may purchase of 
them. Peppers seem to serve them in place of salt. They 
do, however, extract from the fruits of the Inaja palm (Maxi- 
miliana regid) and the Jara palm (Leopoldinia major), and 
also from the Caruru (a species of Lads very common on the 
rocks in the falls), a kind of flour which has a saline taste, 
and with which they season their food. The Carurii, indeed, 
has quite the smell of salt water, and is excellent eating, 


both boiled as a vegetable, or with oil and vinegar as a 

All the tribes of the Uaupe's construct their dwellings after 
one plan, which is peculiar to them. Their houses arc the 
abode of numerous families, sometimes of a whole tribe. The 
plan is a parallelogram, with a semicircle at one end. The 
dimensions of one at Jauarite were one hundred and fifteen 
feet in length, by seventy-five broad, and about thirty high. 
This house would hold about a dozen families, consisting of 
near a hundred individuals. In times of feasts and dances, 
three or four hundred are accommodated in them. The roof 
is supported on fine cylindrical columns, formed of the trunks 
of trees, and beautifully straight and smooth. In the centre 
a clear opening is left, twenty feet wide, and on the sides are 
little partitions of palm-leaf thatch, dividing off rooms for the 
separate families : here are kept the private household utensils, 
weapons, and ornaments ; while the rest of the space contains, 
on each side, the large ovens and gigantic pans for making 
caxiri, and, in the centre, a place for the children to play, and 
for their dances to take place. These houses are built with 
much labour and skill ; the main supporters, beams, rafters, 
and other parts, are straight, well proportioned to the strength 
required, and bound together with split creepers, in a manner 
that a sailor would admire. The thatch is of the leaf of some 
one of the numerous palms so well adapted to the purpose, 
and is laid on with great compactness and regularity. The 
side-walls, which are very low, are formed also of palm thatch, 
but so thick and so well bound together, that neither arrow 
nor bullet will penetrate them. At the gable-end is a large door- 
way, about six feet wide and eight or ten high : the door is 
a large palm-mat, hung from the top, supported by a pole 
during the day, and let down at night. At the semicircular 
end is a smaller door, which is the private entrance of the 
Tushaiia, or chief, to whom this part of the house exclusively 
belongs. The lower part of the gable-end, on each side of 
the entrance, is covered with the thick bark of a tree unrolled, 
and standing vertically. Above this is a loose hanging of 
palm-leaves, between the fissures of which the smoke from the 
numerous fires within finds an exit. In some cases this gable- 
end is much ornamented with symmetrical figures painted in 
colours, as at Carurtf caxoeira, 


The furniture consists principally of maqueiras, or hammocks, 
made of string, twisted from the fibres of the leaves of the 
Mauritia ftexuosa : they are merely an open network of parallel 
threads, crossed by others at intervals of a foot ; the loops at 
each end have a cord passed through them, by which they 
are hung up. The Uaups make great quantities of string of 
this and other fibres, twisting it on their breasts or thighs, 
with great rapidity. 

They have always in their houses a large supply of earthen 
pots, pans, pitchers, and cooking utensils, of various sizes, 
w r hich they make of clay from the river and brooks, mixed 
with the ashes of the caripe bark, and baked in a temporary 
furnace. They have also great quantities of small saucer- 
shaped baskets, called " Balaios," which are niuch esteemed 
down the river, and are the subject of a considerable trade. 

Two tribes in the lower part of the river, the Tarianos and 
Tucdnos, make a curious little stool, cut from a solid block of 
wood, and neatly painted and varnished ; these, w T hich take many 
days to finish, are sold for about a pennyworth of fish-hooks. 

Their canoes are all made out of a single tree, hollowed 
and forced open by the cross-benches ; they are very thick in 
the middle, to resist the wear and tear they are exposed to 
among the rocks and rapids ; they are often forty feet long, 
but smaller ones are generally preferred. The paddles are 
about three feet long, with an oval blade, and are each cut 
out of one piece of w r ood. 

These people are as free from the encumbrances of dress 
as it is possible to conceive. The men w r ear only a small 
piece of tururi passed between the legs, and twisted on to a 
string round the lions. Even such a costume as this is 
dispensed with by the women : they have no dress or covering 
whatever, but are entirely naked. This is the universal custom 
among the Uaupes Indians, from which, in a state of nature, 
they never depart. Paint, with these people, seems to be 
looked upon as a sufficient clothing ; they are never without 
it on some part of their bodies, but it is at their festivals that 
they exhibit all their art in thus decorating their persons : the 
colours they use are red, yellow, and black, and they dispose 
them generally in regular patterns, similar to those with which 
they ornament their stools, their canoes, and other articles of 


They pour the juice of a tree, which stains a deep blue- 
black, on their heads, and let it run in streams all down their 
backs; and the red and yellow are often disposed in large 
round spots upon the cheeks and forehead. 

The use of ornaments and trinkets of various kinds is 
almost confined to the men. The women wear a bracelet 
on the wrists, but none on the neck, and no comb in the 
hair ; they have a garter below the knee, worn tight from 
infancy, for the purpose of swelling out the calf, which they 
consider a great beauty. While dancing in their festivals, the 
women wear a small tanga, or apron, made of beads, prettily 
arranged ; it is only about six inches square, but is never worn 
at any other time, and immediately the dance is over, it is 
taken off. 

The men, on the other hand, have the hair carefully parted 
and combed on each side, and tied in a queue behind. In 
the young men, it hangs in long locks down their necks, and, 
with the comb, which is invariably carried stuck in the top of 
the head, gives to them a most feminine appearance : this is 
increased by the large necklaces and bracelets of beads, and the 
careful extirpation of every symptom of beard. Taking these 
circumstances into consideration, I am strongly of opinion 
that the story of the Amazons has arisen from these feminine- 
looking warriors encountered by the early voyager. I am 
inclined to this opinion, from the effect they first produced 
on myself, when it was only by close examination I saw that 
they were men ; and, were the front parts of their bodies and 
their breasts covered with shields, such as they always use, I 
am convinced any person seeing them for the first time would 
conclude they were women. We have only therefore to suppose 
that tribes having similar customs to those now living on the 
river Uaupes, inhabited the regions where the Amazons were 
reported to have been seen, and we have a rational explana- 
tion of what has so much puzzled all geographers. The only 
objection to this explanation is, that traditions are said to exist 
among the natives, of a nation of "women without husbands." 
Of this tradition, however, I was myself unable to obtain any 
trace, and I can easily imagine it entirely to have arisen from 
the suggestions and inquiries of Europeans themselves. When 
the story of the Amazons was first made known, it became of 
course a point with all future travellers to verify it, or if possible 


get a glimpse of these warlike ladies. The Indians must no 
doubt have been overwhelmed with questions and suggestions 
about them, and they, thinking that the white men must know 
best, would transmit to their descendants and families the idea 
that such a nation did exist in some distant part of the country. 
Succeeding travellers, finding traces of this idea among the 
Indians, would take it as a proof of the existence of the 
Amazons ; instead of being merely the effect of a mistake at 
the first, which had been unknowingly spread among them 
by preceding travellers, seeking to obtain some evidence on 
the subject. 

In my communications and inquiries among the Indians 
on various matters, I have always found the greatest caution 
necessary, to prevent one's arriving at wrong conclusions. 
They are always apt to affirm that which they see you wish 
to believe, and, when they do not at all comprehend your 
question, will unhesitatingly answer, " Yes." I have often in 
this manner obtained, as I thought, information, which persons 
better acquainted with the facts have assured me was quite 
erroneous. These observations, however, must only be taken 
to apply to those almost uncivilised nations who do not under- 
stand, at all clearly, any language in which you can communi- 
cate with them. I have always been able to rely on what 
is obtained from Indians speaking Portuguese readily, and I 
believe that much trustworthy information can be obtained 
from them. Such, however, is not the case with the wild 
tribes, who are totally incapable of understanding any con- 
nected sentence of the language in which they are addressed ; 
and I fear the story of the Amazons must be placed with those 
of the wild man-monkeys, which Humboldt mentions and 
which tradition I also met with, and of the "curupira," or 
demon of the woods, and " carbunculo," of the Upper Amazon 
and Peru ; but of which superstitions we have no such satis- 
factory elucidation as I think has been now given of the 
warlike Amazons. 

To return to our Uaupes Indians and their toilet. We find 
their daily costume enlivened with a few other ornaments ; 
a circlet of parrots' tail-feathers is generally worn round the 
head, and the cylindrical white quartz-stone, already described 
in my Narrative (p. 191), is invariably carried on the breast, 
suspended from a necklace of black seeds. 


At festivals and dances they decorate themselves with a 
complicated costume of feather head-dresses, cinctures, armlets, 
and leg ornaments, which I have sufficiently described in the 
account of their dances (p. 202). 

We will now describe some peculiarities connected with 
their births, marriages, and deaths. 

The women are generally delivered in the house, though 
sometimes in the forest. When a birth takes place in the 
house, everything is taken out of it, even the pans and pots, 
and bows and arrows, till the next day ; the mother takes 
the child to the river and washes herself and it, and she 
generally remains in the house, not doing any work, for four 
or five days. 

The children, more particularly the females, are restricted 
to a particular food : they are not allowed to eat the meat of 
any kind of game, nor of fish, except the very small bony 
kinds ; their food principally consisting of mandiocca-cake 
and fruits. 

On the first signs of puberty in the girls, they have to 
undergo an ordeal. For a month previously, they are kept 
secluded in the house, and allowed only a small quantity of 
bread and water. All relatives and friends of the parents are 
then assembled, bringing, each of them, pieces of " sipo " (an 
elastic climber) ; the girl is then brought out, perfectly naked, 
into the midst of them, when each person present gives her 
five or six severe blows with the sipo across the back and 
breast, till she falls senseless, and it sometimes happens, dead. 
If she recovers, it is repeated four times, at intervals of six 
hours, and it is considered an offence to the parents not to 
strike hard. During this time numerous pots of all kinds of 
meat and fish have been prepared, when the sipos are dipped 
in them and given to her to lick, and she is then considered a 
woman, and allowed to eat anything, and is marriageable. 

The boys undergo a somewhat similar ordeal, but not so 
severe ; which initiates them into manhood, and allows them 
to see the Jurupari music, which will be presently described. 

Tattooing is very little practised by these Indians \ they all, 
however, have a row of circular punctures along the arm, and 
one tribe, the Tucanos, are distinguished from the rest by three 
vertical blue lines on the chin ; and they also pierce the lower 
lip, through which they hang three little threads of white beads. 


All the tribes bore their ears, and wear in them little pieces of 
grass, ornamented with feathers. The Cobeus alone expand 
the hole to so large a size, that a bottle-cork could be inserted : 
they ordinarily wear a plug of wood in it, but, on festas, insert 
a little bunch of arrows. 

The men generally have but one wife, but there is no special 
limit, and many have two or three, and some of the chiefs 
more ; the elder one is never turned away, but remains the 
mistress of the house. They have no particular ceremony at 
their marriages, except that of always carrying away the girl by 
force, or making a show of doing so, even when she and her 
parents are quite willing. They do not often marry with re- 
lations, or even neighbours, preferring those from a distance, 
or even from other tribes. When a young man wishes to have 
the daughter of another Indian, his father sends a message to 
say he will come with his son and relations to visit him. The 
girl's father guesses what it is for, and, if he is agreeable, makes 
preparations for a grand festival : it lasts, perhaps, two or three 
days, when the bridegroom's party suddenly seize the bride, 
and hurry her off to their canoes ; no attempt is made to pre- 
vent them, and she is then considered as married. 

Some tribes, as the Uacarras, have a trial of skill at shooting 
with the bow and arrow, and if the young man does not show 
himself a good marksman, the girl refuses him, op the ground 
that he will not be able to shoot fish and game enough for the 

The dead are almost always buried in the houses, with their 
bracelets, tobacco-bag, and other trinkets upon them : they 
are buried the same day they die, the parents and relations 
keeping up a continual mourning and lamentation over the 
body, from the death to the time of interment ; a few days 
afterwards, a great quantity of caxiri is made, and all friends 
and relations invited to attend, to mourn for the dead, and to 
dance, sing, and cry to his memory. Some of the large houses 
have more than a hundred graves in them, but w T hen the houses 
are small, and very full, the graves are made outside. 

The Tarianas and Tucanos, and some other tribes, about a 
month after the funeral, disinter the corpse, which is then 
much decomposed, and put it in a great pan, or oven, over the 
fire, till all the volatile parts are driven off with a most horrible 
odour, leaving only a black carbonaceous mass, which is 


pounded into a fine powder, and mixed in several large couches 
(vats made of hollowed trees) of caxiri : this is drunk by the 
assembled company till all is finished ; they believe that thus 
the virtues of the deceased will be transmitted to the drinkers. 

The Cobeus alone, in the Uaupes, are real cannibals : they 
eat those of other tribes whom they kill in battle, and even 
make war for the express purpose of procuring human flesh for 
food. When they have more than they can consume at once, 
they smoke-dry the flesh over the fire, and preserve it for food 
a long time. They burn their dead, and drink the ashes in 
caxiri, in the same manner as described above. 

Every tribe and every "malocca " (as their houses are called) 
has its chief, or " Tushaua," who has only a limited authority, 
principally 'in war, in making festivals, and in repairing 
the malocca and keeping the village clean, and in planting the 
mandiocca-fields ; he also treats with the traders, and supplies 
them with men to pursue their journeys. The succession of 
these chiefs is strictly hereditary in the male line, or through 
the female to her husband, who may be a stranger : their 
regular hereditary chief is never superseded, however stupid, 
dull, or cowardly he may be. They have very little law of any 
kind ; but what they have is of strict retaliation, an eye for aa 
eye and a tooth for a tooth ; and a murder is punished or 
revenged in the same manner and by the same weapon with 
which it was committed. 

They have numerous " Pages," a kind of priests, answering 
to the " medicine-men " of the North American Indians. These 
are believed to have great power : they cure all diseases by 
charms, applied by strong blowing and breathing upon the 
party to be cured, and by the singing of certain songs and 
incantations. They are also believed to have power to kill 
enemies, to bring or send away rain, to destroy dogs or game, 
to make the fish leave a river, and to afflict with various 
diseases. They are much consulted and believed in, and are 
well paid for their services. An Indian will give almost all his 
wealth to a page, when he is threatened with any real or imagi- 
nary danger. 

They scarcely seem to think that death can occur naturally, 
always imputing it either to direct poisoning or the charms of 
some enemy, and, on this supposition, will proceed to revenge 
it. This they generally do by poisons, of which they have 


many which are most deadly in their effects : they are given at 
some festival in a bowl of caxiri, which it is good manners 
always to empty, so that the whole dose is sure to be taken. 
One of the poisons often used is most terrible in its effects, 
causing the tongue and throat, as well as the intestines, to pu- 
trefy and rot away, so that the sufferer lingers some days in the 
greatest agony : this is of course again retaliated, on perhaps 
the wrong party, and thus a long succession of murders may 
result from a mere groundless suspicion in the first instance. 

I cannot make out that they have any belief that can be 
called a religion. They appear to have no definite idea of a 
God ; if asked who they think made the rivers, and the forests, 
and the sky, they will reply that they do not know, or some- 
times that they suppose it was "Tupanau,"a word that appears 
to answer to God, but of which they understand nothing. They 
have much more definite ideas of a bad spirit, " Jurupari," or 
Devil, whom they fear, and endeavour through their pages to 
propitiate. When it thunders, they say the "Jurupari" is 
angry, and their idea of natural death is that the "Jurupari " 
kills them. At an eclipse they believe that this bad spirit is 
killing the moon, and they make all the noise they can to 
frighten him away. 

One of their most singular superstitions is about the musical 
instruments they use at their festivals, which they call the 
Jurupari music. These consist of eight or sometimes twelve 
pipes, or trumpets, made of bamboos or palm-stems hollowed 
out, some with trumpet-shaped mouths of bark and with 
mouth-holes of clay and leaf. Each pair of instruments gives 
a distinct note, and they produce a rather agreeable concert, 
something resembling clarionets and bassoons. These instru- 
ment, however, are with them such a mystery that no woman 
must ever see them, on pain of death. They are always kept 
in sone igaripe, at a distance from the malocca, whence they 
are brought on particular occasions : when the sound of them 
is heard approaching, every woman retires into the woods, or 
into some adjoining shed, which they generally have near, and 
remains invisible till after the ceremony is over, when the 
instruments are taken away to their hiding-place, and the 
women come out of their concealment. Should any female 
be supposed to have seen them, either by accident or design, 
she is invaribly executed, generally by poison, and a father 

OF THE AAlAZOtf. 349 

will not hesitate to sacrifice his daughter, or a husband his 
wife, on such an occasion. 

They have many other prejudices with regard to women. 
They believe that if a woman, during her pregnancy, eats of 
any meat, any other animal partaking of it will suffer : if a 
domestic animal or tame bird, it will die ; if a dog, it will be 
for the future incapable of hunting ; and even a man will 
ever after be unable to shoot that particular kind of game. 
An Indian, who was one of my hunters, caught a fine cock of 
the rock, and gave it to his wife to feed, but the poor woman 
was obliged to live herself on cassava-bread and fruits, and 
abstain entirely from all animal food, peppers, and salt, which it 
was believed would cause the bird to die ; notwithstanding all 
precautions, however, the bird did die, and the woman got a 
beating from her husband, because he thought she had not 
been sufficiently rigid in her abstinence from the prohibited 

Most of these peculiar practices and superstitions are retained 
with much tenacity, even by those Indians who are nominally 
civilised and Christian, and many of them have been even 
adopted by the Europeans resident in the country : there are 
actually Portuguese in the Rio Negro who fear the power of 
the Indian pages, and who fully believe and act on all the 
Indian superstitions respecting women. 

The river Uaupes is the channel by which European manu- 
factures find their way into the extensive and unknown regions 
between the Rio Guaviare on the one side, and the Japura on 
the other. About a thousand pounds worth of goods enter 
the Uaupes yearly, mostly in axes, cutlasses, knives, fish-hooks, 
arrow-heads, salt, mirrors, beads, and a few cottons. 

The articles given in exchange are salsaparilha, pitch, farinha, 
string, hammocks, and Indian stools, baskets, feather ornaments, 
and curiosities. The salsaparilha is by far the most valuable 
product, and is the only one exported. Great quantities of 
articles of European manufacture are exchanged by the Indians 
with those of remote districts, for the salsa which they give to 
the traders ; and thus numerous tribes, among whom no 
civilised man has ever yet penetrated, are well supplied with 
iron goods, and send the product of their labour to European 

In order to give some idea of the state of industry and the 


arts among these people, I subjoin a list of articles which I 
collected when among them, to illustrate their manners, 
customs, and state of civilisation, but which were unfortunately 
all lost on my passage home. 


Household Furniture and Utensils. 

i. Hammocks, or maqueiras, of palm-fibre, of various 
materials, colours, and texture. 

2. Small wooden stools, of various sizes, painted and var- 
nished. (Plate XIV. d.) 

3. Flat baskets of plaited bark, in regular patterns and of 
various colours. 

4. Deeper baskets, called "Aturas." (Plate XIII. d.) 

5. Calabashes and gourds, of various shapes and sizes. 

6. Water-pitchers of earthenware. 

7. Pans of earthenware for cooking. 

Articles used in the Maiiufacture of Mandiocca Bread. 

8. Mandiocca graters, of quartz fragments set in wood. 
(Plate XIII. a.) 

9. Tipitis, or wicker elastic pressure cylinders. 
10. Wicker sieves for straining the pulp. 

n. Ovens for roasting cassava-bread and farinha. (Plate 
XIII. b.) 

12. Plaited fans for blowing the fire and turning the cakes. 

Weapons used in War, Hunting, and Fishing. 

13. Bows of various woods and different sizes. 

14. Quivers of curabis, or poisoned war-arrows. 

15. Arrows with heads of monkey-bones. 

16. Arrows, with iron heads, for shooting fish. 

17. Gravatanas, or blow-tubes, from eight to fourteen feet 

18. Wicker and wooden quivers, with poisoned arrows for 

19. Small pots and calabashes, with the curarf or ururf 


, -' 

a. Mandioca grater, b. Oven. c. Fire place, d. Basket. 


Plate XIII. 


20. Large carved clubs of hard wood. 

21. Carved and feather ornamented lances. 

22. Large circular shields of wicker-work. 

23. Ditto, covered with tapir's skin. 

24. Nets for fishing (Pisas). 

25. Rod and line for fishing. 

26. Palm-spine fish-hooks. 

27. Small wicker traps for catching fish (Matapfs). 

Musical Instruments. 

28. A small drum. 

29. Eight large trumpets, the Jurupari music. 

30. Numerous fifes and flutes of reeds. 

31. Fifes made of deer-bones. 
31a. Whistle of a deer's skull. 

32. Vibrating instruments of tortise and turtle shells. 

Ornaments, Dress., and Miscella?ieous. 

3$. About twenty distinct articles, forming the feather head- 

34. Combs of palm-wood, ornamented with feathers. 
(Plate XIV. a.) 

35. Necklaces of seeds and beads. 

36. Bored cylindrical quartz-stone. 

37. Copper earrings, and wooden plugs for the ears. 

38. Armlet of feathers, beads, seeds, etc. 

39. Girdle of jaguars' teeth. 

40. Numbers of cords, made of the " coroa " fibre, mixed 
with the hair of monkeys and jaguars, making a soft elastic 
cord used for binding up the hair, and various purposes of 

41. Painted aprons, or " tangas," made from the inner bark 
of a tree. 

42. Women's bead tangas. 

43. Rattles and ornaments for the legs. 

44. Garters strongly knitted of u coroa." 

45. Packages and carved calabashes, filled with a red pig- 
ment called " crajurii." 

46. Large cloths of prepared bark. 

47. Very large carved wooden forks for holding cigars. 
(Plate XIV. b.) 


48. Large cigars used at festivals. 

49. Spathes of the Bussu palm {Manicaria saccifera), Used 
for preserving feather-ornaments, etc. 

50. Square mats. 

51. Painted earthen pot, used for holding the " capi " at 

52. Small pot of dried peppers. 

53. Rattles used in dancing, formed of calabashes, carved, 
and ornamented with small stones inside. (Plate XIV. c.) 

54. Painted dresses of prepared bark (tururf). 

55. Balls of string, of various materials and degrees of 

56. Bottle-shaped baskets, for preserving the edible ants. 

57. Tinder-boxes of bambo carved, and filled with tinder 
from an ant's nest. 

58. Small canoe hollowed from a tree. 

59. Paddles used with ditto. 

60. Triangular tool, used for making the small stools. 

61. Pestles and mortars, used for pounding peppers and 

62. Bark bag, full of sammauma,'the silk-cotton of a Bombax, 
used for making blowing-arrows. 

63. Chest of plaited palm-leaves, used for holding feather- 

64. Stone axes, used before the introduction of iron. 

65. Clay cylinders, for supporting cooking utensils. (Plate 
XIII. c.)* 

The Indians of the river Isanna are few in comparison with 
those of the Uaupes, the river not being so large or so pro- 
ductive of fish. 

The tribes are named 

Baniwas, or Manfvas (Mandiocca). 



Ciuc.1 (Stars). 

* Specimens of Nos. I, 2, 3, 9, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 21, 34, 36, 41, 47, 49, 
and 63, of this list, have been sent home by my friend R. Spruce, Esq., 
and may be seen in the very interesting Museum at the Royal Botanical 
Gardens, at Kew 



a. Comb. b. Cigar holder, e. Rattle, d. Stool. 


Tlate XIV. 


Coati (the Nasua coatimitndi). 

Jurupari (Devils). 

Ipeca (Ducks). 

Papunaua's, the name of a river, a tributary of the 

Guaviare, but which has its sources close to the 


These tribes are much alike in all their customs, differing only 

in their languages ; as a whole, however, they offer remarkable 

points of difference from those of the river Uaupes. 

In stature and appearance they are very similar, but they 
have rather more beard, and do not pull out the hair of the 
body and face, and they cut the hair of their head with a knife, 
or, wanting that, with a hard sharp grass. Thus, the absence of 
the long queue of hair forms a striking characteristic difference 
in their appearance. 

In their dress they differ in the women always wearing a 
small tanga of turiiri, instead of going perfectly naked, as 
among the Uaupes ; they also wear more necklaces and bracelets, 
and the men fewer, and the latter do not make use of so many 
feather-ornaments and decorations in their festivals. 

Each family has a separate house, which is small, of a square 
shape, and possesses both a door and windows ; and the houses 
are collected together in little scattered villages. The Isanna 
Indians make small flat baskets like those of the Uaupes, but not 
the stools, nor the aturas, neither have they the white cylindrical 
stone which the others so much esteem. They marry one, two, 
or three wives, and prefer relations, marrying with cousins, 
uncles with nieces, and nephews with aunts, so that in a village 
all are connected. The men are more warlike and morose in 
their disposition than the Uaupes, by whom they are much 
feared. They bury their dead in their houses, and mourn for 
them a long time, but make no feast on the occasion. The 
Isanna Indians are said not to be nearly so numerous, nor to 
increase so rapidly, as the Uaupes ; which may perhaps be 
owing to their marrying with relations, while the former prefer 

The Arekainas make war against other tribes, to obtain 
prisoners for food, like the Cobeus. In their superstitions and 
religious ideas they much resemble the Uaupes. 

The Macas are one of the lowest and most uncivilised tribes 
of Indians in the Amazon district. They inhabit the forests 



and serras about the rivers Mari, Curicuriari, and Urubaxf, and 
live a wandering life, having no houses and no fixed place of 
abode, and of course no clothing ; they have little or no iron, 
and use the tusks of the wild pig to scrape and form their bows 
and arrows, and they make a most deadly kind of poison to anoint 
them. At night they sleep on a bundle of palm-leaves, or stick 
up. a few leaves to make a shed if it rains, or sometimes, with 
"sipds," construct a rude hammock, which, however, serves 
only once. They eat all kinds of birds and fish, roasted or 
boiled in palm-spathes ; and all sorts of wild fruits. 

The Macas often attack the houses of other Indians 
situated in solitary places, and murder all the inhabitants ; and 
they have even depopulated and caused the removal of several 
villages. All the other tribes of Indians catch them and keep 
them as slaves, and in most villages you will see some of them. 
They are distinguishable at once from the surrounding tribes 
by a wavy and almost curly hair, and by being rather lanky and 
ill-formed in their limbs : I am inclined, however, to think that 
this latter is partly owing to their mode of life, and the hardships 
and exposure they have to undergo ; and some that I have seen 
in the houses of traders have been as well-formed and hand- 
some as any of the other Indian tribes. 

The Curetiis are a nation inhabiting the country about the 
river "Apaporfs, between the Japura and Uaupe's. I met with 
some Indians of this tribe on the Rio Negro, and the only 
peculiarity I observed in them was, that their cheek-bones 
were rather more prominent than usual. From them, and 
from an Isanna Indian who had visited them, I obtained some 
information about their customs. 

They wear their hair long like the Uaupes, and, like them, 
the women go entirely naked; and they paint their bodies, 
but do not tattoo. Their houses are large and circular, with 
walls of thatch, and a high conical capped roof, made like 
some chimney-pots, with the upper part overlapping, so as to 
let the smoke escape without allowing the rain to enter. They 
do not wander about, but reside in small permanent villages, 
governed by a chief, and are said to be long-lived and very 
peaceable, never quarrelling or making war with other nations. 
The men have but one wife. There are no pages, or priests, 
among them, and they have no ideas of a superior Being. 
They cultivate mandiocca, maize, and other fruits, and use 


game more than fish for food. No civilised man has ever 
been among them, so they have no salt, and a very scanty 
supply of iron, and obtain fire by friction. It is said also that 
they differ from most other tribes in making no intoxicating 
drinks. Their language is full of harsh and aspirated sounds, 
and is somewhat allied to those of the Tucanos and Cobeus 
among the Uaupe's. 

In the lower part of the Japura reside the " Uaenambeus," 
or Humming-bird Indians. I met with some of them in the 
Rio Negro, and obtained some information as to their customs 
and language. In most particulars they much resemble the 
last-mentioned tribe, particularly in their circular houses, their 
food, and mode of life. Like them they weave the fibres of 
the Tucum palm-leaf (Astrocaryum vulgare) to make their 
hammocks, whereas the Uaupes and Isanna Indians always 
use the leaf of the Miriti (Mauritia flexuosd). They are dis- 
tinguished from other tribes by a small blue mark on the upper 
lip. They have from one to four wives, and the women always 
wear a small apron of bark. 

Closely allied to these are the Juris of the Solimoes, between 
the lea and Japura. A number of them have migrated to the 
Rio Negro, and become settled and partly civilised there. 
They are remarkable for a custom of tattooing in a circle (not 
in a square, as in a plate in Dr. Prichard's work) round the 
mouth, so as exactly to resemble the little black-mouthed 
squirrel-monkeys (Callithrix sciureus) ; from this cause they are 
often called the Juripixiinas (Black Juris), or by the Brazilians 
"Bocapreitos" (Black-mouths). From this strange errors have 
arisen : we find in some maps the note " Juries, curly-haired 
Negroes," whereas they are pure straight-haired Indians. They 
are good servants for canoe and agricultural work, and are the 
most skilful of all in the use of the gravatana, or blow-pipe. 

In the same neighbourhood are Miranhas, who are canni- 
bals ; and the Ximanas and Cauxanas, who kill all their first- 
born children : in fact, between the Upper Amazon, the 
Guaviare, and the Andes, there is a region as large as England, 
whose inhabitants are entirely uncivilised and unknown. 

On the south side of the Amazon also, between the Madeira 
and the Uaycali, and extending to the Andes of Peru and 
Bolivia, is a still larger tract of unknown virgin forest, unin- 
habited by a single civilised man : here reside numerous 


nations of the native American race, known only by the 
reports of the border tribes, who form the communication 
between them and the traders of the great rivers. 

One of the best-known and most regularly visited rivers of 
this great tract is the Puriis, whose mouth is a short distance 
above the Rio Negro, but whose sources a three months' 
voyage does not reach. Of the Indians found on the banks 
of this river I have been able to get some information. 
Five tribes are met with by the traders : 
i. Miiras, from the mouth to sixteen days' voyage up. 

2. Purupuriis, from thence to about thirty days' voyage up. 

3. Catauxfs, in the district of the Purupuriis, but in the 
igaripes and lakes inland. 

4. Jamamaris, inland on the west bank. 

5. Jubiris, on the river-banks above the Purupuriis. 

The Miiras are rather a tall race, have a good deal of beard 
for Indians, and the hair of the head is slightly crisp and 
wavy. They used formerly to go naked, but now the men 
all wear trousers and shirts, and the women petticoats. Their 
houses are grouped together in small villages, and are scarcely 
ever more than a roof supported on posts ; very rarely do they 
take the trouble to build any walls. They make no hammocks, 
but hang up three bands of a bark called " invira," on which 
they sleep ; but the more civilised now purchase of the traders 
hammocks made by other Indians. They practise scarcely 
any cultivation, except sometimes a little mandiocca, but 
generally live on wild fruits, and abundance of fish and game : 
their food is entirely produced by the river, consisting of the 
Manatus, or cow-fish, which is as good as beef, turtles, and 
various kinds of fish, all of which are in great abundance, so 
that the traders say there are no people who live so well as 
the Miiras ; they have therefore no occasion for gravatanas, 
which they do not make, but have a great variety of bows and 
arrows and harpoons, and construct very good canoes. They 
now all cut their hair ; the old men have a large hole in their 
lower lip filled up with a piece of wood, but this custom is 
now disused. Each man has two or three wives, but there 
is no ceremony of marriage; and they bury their dead some- 
times in the house, but more commonly outside, and put all 
the goods of the deceased upon his grave. The women use 
necklaces and bracelets of beads, and the men tie the seeds 


of the india-rubber tree to their legs when they dance. Each 
village has a Tushaua : the succession is hereditary, but the 
chief has very little power. They have pages, whom they 
believe to have much skill, and are afraid of, and pay well. 
They were formerly very warlike, and made many attacks 
upon the Europeans, but are now much more peaceful ; and 
are the most skilful of all Indians in shooting turtles and fish, 
and in catching the cow-fish. They still use their own language 
among themselves, though they also understand the Lingoa 
Geral. The white traders obtain from them salsaparilha, oil 
from turtles' eggs and the cow-fish, Brazil-nuts, and estopa, 
which is the bark of the young Brazil-nut tree (Bertholletia 
excelsa)) used extensively for caulking canoes ; and pay them 
in cotton goods, harpoon and arrow-heads, hooks, beads, 
knives, cutlasses,' etc. 

The next tribes, the Purupurus, are in many respects very 
peculiar, and differ remarkably in their habits from any other 
nation we have yet described. They call themselves Pamouirfs, 
but are always called by the Brazilians Purupurus, a name 
also applied to a peculiar disease, with which they are almost 
all afflicted : this consists in the body being spotted and 
blotched with white, brown, or nearly black patches, of irregular 
size and shape, and having a very disagreeable appearance : 
when young, their skins are clear, but as they grow up, they 
invariably become more or less spotted. Other Indians are 
sometimes seen afflicted in this manner, and they are then 
said to have the Purupuru ; though it does not appear whether 
the disease is called after the tribe of Indians who are most 
subject to it, or the Indians after the disease. Some say that 
the word is Portuguese, but this seems to be a mistake. 

The Purupurus, men and women, go perfectly naked ; and 
their houses are of the rudest construction, being semi-cylindri- 
cal, like those of our gipsies, and so small, as to be set up on 
the sandy beaches and carried away in their canoes whenever 
they wish to move. These canoes are of the rudest construc- 
tion, having a flat bottom and upright sides, a mere square 
box, and quite unlike those of all other Indians. But what 
distinguishes them yet more from their neighbours is, that they 
use neither the gravatana, nor bow and arrows, but have an 
instrument called a "palheta," which is a piece of wood with 
a projection at the end, to secure the base of the arrow, the 


middle of which is held with the handle of the palheta in the 
hand, and thus thrown as from a sling : they have a surprising 
dexterity in the use of this weapon, and with it readily kill 
game, birds, and fish. 

They grow a few fruits, such as yams and plantains, but sel- 
dom have any mandiocca, and they construct earthen pans to 
cook in. They sleep in their houses on the sand of the prayas, 
making no hammocks or clothing of any kind ; they make no 
fires in their houses, which are too small, but are kept warm 
at night by the number of persons in them. They bore large 
holes in the upper and lower lip, in the septum of the nose, 
and in the ears ; at their festivals they insert in these holes 
sticks, six or eight inches long; at other times they have only 
a short piece in, to keep them open. In the wet season, when 
the prayas and banks of the river are all flooded, they construct 
rafts of trunks of trees bound together with creepers, and on 
them erect their huts, and live there till the waters fall again, 
when they guide their raft to the first sandy beach that appears. 

Little is known of their domestic customs and superstitions. 
The men have each but one wife ; the dead are buried in the 
sandy beaches ; and they are not known to have any pages 
A few families only live together, in little movable villages, to 
each of which there is a Tushaua. They have, at times, 
dances and festivals, when they make intoxicating drinks from 
wild fruits, and amuse themselves with rude musical instruments, 
formed of reeds and bones. They do not use salt, but prefer 
payment in fish-hooks, knives, beads, and farinha, for the 
salsaparilha and turtle-oil which they sell to the traders. 

May not the curious disease, to which they are so subject, 
be produced by their habit of constantly sleeping naked on 
the sand, instead of in the comfortable, airy, and cleanly 
hammock, so universally used by almost every other tribe of 
Indians in this part of South America ? 

The Catauixis, though in the immediate neighbourhood of 
the last, are very different. They have permanent houses, 
cultivate mandiocca, sleep in hammocks, and are clean-skinned. 
They go naked like the last, but do not bore holes in their 
nose and lips ; they wear a ring of twisted hair on their arms 
and legs. They use bows, arrows, and gravatinas, and make 
the ervadiira, or ururf poison. Their canoes are made of the 
bark of a tree, taken off entire. They eat principally forest 


game, tapirs, monkeys, and large birds ; they are, however, 
cannibals, killing and eating any Indians of other tribes they 
can procure, and they preserve the meat, smoked and dried. 
Senhor Domingos, a Portuguese trader up the river Punis, 
informed me that he once met a party of them, who felt his 
belly and ribs, as a butcher would handle a sheep, and talked 
much to each other, apparently intimating that he was fat, and 
would be excellent eating. 

Of the Jamaman's we have no authentic information, but 
that they much resemble the last in their manners and customs, 
and in their appearance. 

The Jubiris are equally unknown ; they, however, most 
resemble the Purupuriis in their habits and mode of life, and, 
like them, have their bodies spotted and mottled, though not 
to such a great extent. 

In the country between the Tapajdz and the Madeira, 
among the labyrinth of lakes and channels of the great island 
of the Tupinambaranos, reside the Mundruciis, the most war- 
like Indians of the Amazons. These are, I believe, the only 
perfectly tattooed nation in South America : the markings are 
extended all over the body ; they are produced by pricking 
with the spines of the pupunha palm, and rubbing in the soot 
from burning pitch to produce the indelible bluish tinge 

They make their houses with mud walls, in regular villages. 
In each village they have a large building which serves as a 
kind of barrack, or fortress, where all the men sleep at night, 
armed with their bows and arrows, ready in case of alarm : 
this house is surrounded within with dried heads of their 
enemies : these heads they smoke and dry, so as to preserve 
all the features and the hair most perfectly. They make war 
every year with an adjoining tribe, the Parentintins, taking the 
women and children for slaves, and preserving the heads of 
the men. They make good canoes and hammocks. They 
live principally on forest-game, and are very agricultural, 
making quantities of farinha and growing many fruits. The 
men have each one wife, and each village its chief. Cravo or 
wild nutmegs, and farinha, are the principal articles of their 
trade ; and they receive in exchange cotton cloth, iron goods, 
salt, beads, etc. 

In the Rio Branco are numerous tribes, and some of them 
are said to practise circumcision. 


Others, near the sources of the Tapajdz, make the girls 
undergo the same cruel initiation as has been already described 
as common among the Uaupes and Isanna Indians. 

On the north banks of the Rio Negro are many uncivilised 
tribes, very little known. 

On the south banks, the Manaos were formerly a very 
numerous nation. It appears to have been from these tribes 
that the various accounts of imaginary wealth prevalent soon 
after the discovery of America were derived ; the whole of them 
are now civilised, and their blood mingles with that of some of 
the best families in the Province of Para; their language is 
said still to exist, and to be spoken by many old persons, but 
I was never fortunate enough to meet with any one under- 
standing it. 

One of the singular facts connected with these Indians of 
the Amazon valley, is the resemblance which exists between 
some of their customs, and those of nations most remote from 
them. The gravatana, or blow-pipe, reappears in the sumpitan 
of Borneo ; the great houses of the Uaupes closely resemble 
those of the Dyaks of the same country ; while many small 
baskets and bamboo-boxes, from Borneo and New Guinea, 
are so similar in their form and construction to those of the 
Amazon, that they would be supposed to belong to adjoining 
tribes. Then again the Mundrucus, like the Dyaks, take the 
heads of their enemies, smoke-dry them with equal care, 
preserving the skin and hair entire, and hang them up around 
their houses. In Australia the throwing-stick is used ; and, 
on a remote branch of the Amazon, we see a tribe of Indians 
differing from all around them, in substituting for the bow 
a weapon only found in such a remote portion of the earth, 
among a people differing from them in almost every physical 

It will be necessary to obtain much more information on 
this subject, before we can venture to decide whether such 
similarities show any remote connection between these nations, 
or are mere accidental coincidences, produced by the same 
wants, acting upon people subject to the same conditions of 
climate and in an equally low state of civilisation ; and it 
offers additional matter for the wide-spreading speculations of 
the ethnographer. 

The main feature in the personal character of the Indians 















of this part of South America, is a degree of diffidence, bash- 
fulness, or coldness, which affects all their actions. It is 
this that produces their quiet deliberation, their circuitous way 
of introducing a subject they have come to speak about, talking 
half an hour on different topics before mentioning it : owing 
to this feeling, they will run away if displeased rather than 
complain, and will never refuse to undertake what is asked 
them, even when they are unable or do not intend to perform 

It is the same peculiarity which causes the men never to 
exhibit any feeling on meeting after a separation ; though they 
have, and show, a great affection for their children, whom they 
never part with ; nor can they be induced to do so, even for 
a short time. They scarcely ever quarrel among themselves, 
work hard, and submit willingly to authority. They are ingeni- 
ous and skilful workmen, and readily adopt any customs of 
civilised life that may be introduced among them ; and they 
seem capable of being formed, by education and good govern- 
ment, into a peaceable and civilised community. 

This change, however, will, perhaps, never take place : they 
are exposed to the influence of the refuse of Brazilian society, 
and will probably, before many years, be reduced to the 
condition of the other half-civilised Indians of the country, 
who seem to have lost the good qualities of savage life, and 
gained only the vices of civilisation. 



As connected with the languages of these people, we may 
mention the curious figures on the rocks commonly known 
as picture-writings, which are found all over the Amazon 

The first I saw was on the serras of Montealegre, as described 
in my Journal (p. 104). These differed from all I have since 
seen, in being painted or rubbed in with a red colour, and 
not cut or scratched as in most of the others I met with. 
They were high up on the mountain, at a considerable distance 
from any river. 

The next I fell in with were on the banks of the Amazon, 
on rocks covered at high water just below the little village 
of Serpa. These figures are principally of the human face, 
and are roughly cut into the hard rock, blackened by the 
deposit which takes place in the waters of the Amazon, as in 
those of the Orinooko. 

Again, at the mouth of the Rio Branco, on a little rocky 
island in the river, are numerous figures of men and animals 
of a large size scraped into the hard granitic rock. Near 
St. Isabel, S. Joze, and Castanheiro, there are more of these 
figures, and I found others on the Upper Rio Negro in Vene- 
zuela. I took careful drawings of all of them, which are 
unfortunately lost. 

In the river Uaupes also these figures are very numerous, 
and of these I preserved my sketches. They contain rude 
representations of domestic utensils, canoes, animals, and 



c n 


Plate XVI. 


human figures, as well as circles, squares, and other regular 
forms. They are all scraped on the excessively hard granitic 
rock. Some are entirely above and others below high-water 
mark, and many are quite covered with a growth of lichens, 
through which, however, they are still plainly visible. (Plates 
XV. and XVI.) Whether they had any signification to those 
who executed them, or were merely the first attempts of a 
rude art guided only by fancy, it is impossible now to say. 
It is, however, beyond a doubt that they are of some antiquity, 
and are never executed by the present race of Indians. Even 
among the most uncivilised tribes, where these figures are 
found, they have no idea whatever of their origin; and if 
asked, will say they do not know, or that they suppose the 
spirits did them. Many of the Portuguese and Brazilian 
traders will insist upon it that they are natural productions, 
or, to use their own expression, that " God made them ; " 
and on any objection being made they triumphantly ask, 
"And could not God make them?" which of course settles 
the point. Most of them in fact are quite unable to see any 
difference between these figures and the natural marks and 
veins that frequently occur in the rocks. 








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New York. Botanical Garden Library 

F2546.W3 1889 gen 

Wa lace, Alfred Rus/A narrative of trave 

3 5 

85 00002 0642 

MAR 70